Tuesday, March 20, 2012

meanwhile, cognitive elites further augment their electronic medical records

TechnologyReview | Back in 2000, when Larry Smarr left his job as head of a celebrated supercomputer center in Illinois to start a new institute at the University of California, San Diego, and the University of California, Irvine, he rarely paid attention to his bathroom scale. He regularly drank Coke, added sugar to his coffee, and enjoyed Big Mac Combo Meals with his kids at McDonald's. Exercise consisted of an occasional hike or a ride on a stationary bike. "In Illinois they said, 'We know what's going to happen when you go out to California. You're going to start eating organic food and get a blonde trainer and get a hot tub,' " recalls Smarr, who laughed off the predictions. "Of course, I did all three."

Smarr, who directs the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology in La Jolla, dropped from 205 to 184 pounds and is now a fit 63-year-old. But his transformation transcends his regular exercise program and carefully managed diet: he has become a poster man for the medical strategy of the future. Over the past decade, he has gathered as much data as he can about his body and then used that information to improve his health. And he has accomplished something that few people at the forefront of the "quantified self" movement have had the opportunity to do: he helped diagnose the emergence of a chronic disease in his body.

Like many "self-quanters," Smarr wears a Fitbit to count his every step, a Zeo to track his sleep patterns, and a Polar WearLink that lets him regulate his maximum heart rate during exercise. He paid 23andMe to analyze his DNA for disease susceptibility. He regularly uses a service provided by Your Future Health to have blood and stool samples analyzed for biochemicals that most interest him. But a critical skill separates Smarr from the growing pack of digitized patients who show up at the doctor's office with megabytes of their own biofluctuations: he has an extraordinary ability to fish signal from noise in complex data sets.

On top of his pioneering computer science work—he advocated for the adoption of ARPAnet, an early version of the Internet, and students at his University of Illinois center developed Mosaic, the first widely used browser—Smarr spent 25 years as an astrophysicist focused on relativity theory. That gave him the expertise to chart several of his biomarkers over time and then overlay the longitudinal graphs to monitor everything from the immune status of his gut and blood to the function of his heart and the thickness of his arteries. His meticulously collected and organized data helped doctors discover that he has Crohn's, an inflammatory bowel disease.

8 comments:

Jonson said...

Very informative note you shared here, Feeling lucky to read this post. After reading I found few points which are so important. Thanks! 

CNu said...

You did indeed. Jason Pontin seems almost fixated on this topic as it seems he's managed to include something on it in each of the past half-dozen or so Technology Reviews. It takes me a while to get a point, sometimes it's in the counterpoint, as with today's articles. Now that human livestock management will no longer drive profit, medicine as we've known it over the baby-boom, green revolution, too damn much yeast in the petri dish decades is being wound down.

All this quantified self data gathering and data warehousing has an endgame that was predicted quite some time ago. The brave new world/gattaca stratifications are fairly obvious, possibly a little less obvious when this gets ramped up, are the long-term gerontological management applications that will come/can come only with an enormous uptick in specific, personal data required to profile an individual. Lifespan extension for those elites who can afford it will be a fabulously profitable business.

CNu said...

"Medical" magical-thinking is really gonna take a beating....,  http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/243098.php

Dale Asberry said...

Speaking of... when I get the time to find the links, there has been some recent news about personal DNA/expression profiling becoming significantly less expensive.

Dale Asberry said...

Nvm. These were all about devices that are on the cusp of making it cheap. 

CNu said...

 More craptastic superstition bites the dust http://www.medpagetoday.com/Cardiology/CHF/31732

cognitive theory said...

wow, i was not aware of the same.  Highly educative and unique stuff. Thanks for sharing the same.

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