Session Abstract – PMWC 2018 Duke

Session Synopsis: The ability to generate Big Data is now within the reach of many who harness it through countless experiments in a variety of settings. The swift growth of private and public repositories of biological and clinical datasets is creating tremendous new opportunities for data-driven science and breakthrough discoveries in biology and medicine. At the same time, the sheer magnitude of these repositories puts increased demands on managing the data and orchestrating the rapidly evolving frameworks and applications.

This session will discuss how a team from Thomas Jefferson University coupled large collections of biological datasets with high-performance computing to generate unprecedented advances in Precision Medicine. The session will provide a unique opportunity to hear how Jefferson’s Computational Medicine Center has been using Big Data to guide their basic research work into disease disparities. The Jefferson team has generated strong evidence that “who we are” affects our predisposition for disease, how a disease will progress, how severe it will be, what the therapeutic options are, and other important factors. Specifically, they have shown that a person’s sex, race/ethnicity, and population origin affect the abundances of potent regulatory molecules and of the proteins these regulators control. These findings have already led to the design of a pan-cancer biomarker panel that can distinguish among 32 cancer types with high sensitivity and specificity. The Jefferson team’s efforts are laying the groundwork for revolutionary and powerful diagnostic techniques and novel approaches to therapy. Letting the data lead the way and using a high-performance data architecture as the catalyst has allowed this team to deliver groundbreaking research and generate invaluable insights that will boost Precision Medicine efforts.

Session Chair Profile

U.S. Public Channels, Healthcare and Life Sciences Solutions Executive, IBM

Mr. Crites is responsible for using transformational forces of AI, near infinite compute and storage to develop and execute revenue generating opportunities in the Healthcare, Life Sciences & Govt. (US) Verticals. His primary responsibility is leading IBM Systems in support of Watson Health, what the company identifies as its current ‘moonshot’ working to advance health at global scale. Mr. Crites has a passion for the ethical use of data and technology to advance Precision Medicine. He advocates and is pushing the industry to move from siloed samples sizes in the 10s or 100s to deep and diverse data sets in the millions and apply advanced artificial intelligence to accelerate the time from bench to clinic dramatically. To this end, Mr. Crites advises major healthcare and life sciences organizations and is active in large data sharing programs. Mr. Crites is also passionate about utilizing ethical data use as a core competency and competitive advantage vs. a cost of doing business in the “land grab” approach to data acquisition and analytics.

Mr. Crites joined IBM in 2001 as an Enterprise Sales Specialist. He has continually advanced throughout his career holding various domestic and international sales, consulting and leadership roles. He has been part of or developed first of the kind initiatives that led to new products, services, revenue, and growth. He is a transformational executive who quickly evolves too rapidly changing competitive environments and utilizes these talents to help clients succeed beyond their expectations and has advised many of the Fortune 500 companies in the use of advanced technologies to transform their businesses. Click here for full bio.

Speaker Profile

Ph.D., Founding Director of the Computational Medicine Center, Thomas Jefferson University

Dr. Rigoutsos is the Founding Director of the Computational Medicine Center ( at Thomas Jefferson University. Dr. Rigoutsos is the inaugural holder of the University’s Richard W. Hevner Chair in Computational Medicine. He is a Professor in the Department of Pathology with joint ap-pointments in the Department of Cancer Biology, and the Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biolo-gy. Prior to joining Jefferson in 2010, Dr. Rigoutsos spent 18 years at IBM’s Thomas J. Watson Re-search Center, where he worked on Computational Biology. From 2000 to 2010, and in parallel with his IBM tenure, Dr. Rigoutsos was a Visiting Faculty at MIT’s Dept. of Chemical Engineering where he taught graduate-level classes and summer professional courses in Bioinformatics. The Rigoutsos lab studies post-transcriptional regulation by non-coding RNAs, including microRNAs, isomiRs, tRNAs, tRNA-derived fragments, pyknons, and, piRNAs. In recent years, the lab made several key contribu-tions to our understanding of the molecular biology of health disparities. Specifically, the lab was first to show that, in human tissues, the production of miRNA isoforms (isomiRs) and of tRNA-derived frag-ments (tRFs) is constitutive. Moreover, the lab showed that the abundances of isomiRs and tRFs de-pend on an individual’s sex, population origin, race/ethnicity, tissue, tissue state, and disease. These findings are important because isomiRs and tRFs are potent regulators of numerous genes and path-ways. The findings have important ramifications for implementing Precision Medicine, identifying accu-rate biomarkers, and designing targeted diagnostics and targeted therapeutics.

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