Episode 15
Featuring Eric Schadt
Demetri Kofinas speaks with Dr. Eric Schadt, founding director of the Icahn Institute for Genomics and Multiscale Biology. How has our ability to sequence new genomes created a paradigm shift in medicine? What is the role of big data and A.I. in finding the correlations needed to treat malignancies and prevent diseases?

In this week’s episode of Hidden Forces, host Demetri Kofinas speaks with Dr. Eric Schadt. Eric Schadt is founder and CEO of Sema4, as well as Dean of Precision Medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. During the course of his 20-year career, Dr. Eric Schadt has built genetics and systems biology groups at Merck. He built the computational biology group at Rosetta. He has served as co-founder of Sage Bionetworks and as Chief Science Officer of Pacific Biosciences. He now serves as the founder and CEO of Sema4. He has published more than 300 peer-reviewed papers in leading scientific journals, and he has contributed to a number of discoveries relating to the genetic basis of common human diseases such as diabetes, obesity and Alzheimer’s.

In today’s conversation, we explore the information technology of biology – DNA – the world of genomics, where big data looms large. We begin by mapping the territory of the human genome and exploring the pathways of disease. We look to understand the ways in which complex genetic combinations express themselves as phenotypes such as height, bone structure, intelligence, and personality. How are these traits coded for? What are the instructions our body uses to repair a damaged cell? What blueprint does it consult before trying to grow new arteries? How does it know to regulate our appetite or when start us down the path of puberty? What happens when these instructions are damaged? How can the smallest difference in the order of life’s code make all the difference for our success, our happiness, and even our survival?

50 years have passed, between the discovery of the double-helix and the mapping of the first human genome. What progress have we made in the 15 years since? How has our ability to sequence new genomes created a paradigm shift in medicine? What is the role of big data and artificial intelligence in finding the correlations needed in order to treat malignancies and prevent diseases? What is the promise of genomics? What are the perils of big data in medicine? What stands between us and some superhuman future?

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

Join the conversation at @hiddenforcespod

Eric Schadt (born January 31, 1965) is an American mathematician and computational biologist. He is Dean for Precision Medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and Chief Executive Officer of Sema4, a spinout next generation health information company of the Mount Sinai Health System that provides advanced genomic testing and merges big data analytics with clinical diagnostics. He was previously founding director of the Icahn Institute for Genomics and Multiscale Biology and chair of the Department of Genetics and Genomics Sciences at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Schadt’s work combines supercomputing and advanced computational modeling with diverse biological data to understand the relationship between genes, gene products, other molecular features such as cells, organs, organisms, and communities and their impact on complex human traits such as disease. He is known for calling for a shift in molecular biology toward a network-oriented view of living systems to complement the reductionist, single-gene approaches that currently dominate biology to more accurately model the complexity of biological systems. Schadt has also worked to engage the public, encouraging people to participate in scientific research and helping them understand privacy concerns around DNA-based information.



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