Top 10 Takeaways from CHI’s Annual Meeting
For those who missed it, the 2014 CHI Annual Meeting was held on Nov. 20 in the lovely Paul Berg Hall at Stanford University in Palo Alto. It was an amazing event, filled with important insights, startling new technologies and even an emotional appeal. Here are some of our favorite moments.
1. Assemblymember Richard Gordon
On a day focused on the policies and processes that need to be improved in the biomedical ecosystem, it was Assemblymember Richard Gordon who reminded us why we come to work each morning.
“I was thinking about this as I parked my car in front of Stanford hospital. In the 1980s, as an openly gay man, I can’t tell you how many times I came to that hospital to hold the hands of friends who wouldn’t survive. So many young men, great talent and skills lost. That isn’t the course today – and it’s because of you and the work that your companies do.”
“As a member of the legislature, when I go to bat for your industry, it’s not only because of the economic value that you bring to this state and this region. It’s also because I know, on a very personal level, what you’re doing saves lives.”
There’s a lot of process involved in bringing products to market, and it’s easy to compartmentalize our thinking. But the bottom line is the drugs, devices and diagnostics created by California’s biomedical industry have a profound impact on health.
2. What are Cures Worth?
There’s been a backlash against some new drugs because of their high costs. Gilead’s Hepatitis C drug Sovaldi is a prime example. Dana Goldman, PhD, director of USC’s Schaeffer Center for Health Policy and Economics, put that into perspective, discussing the overall value of curing Hepatitis C.
“The thing we want to think about is the price of health, not the price of healthcare…Is curing HCV too expensive…Suppose we said we wanted to eliminate this disease, what would be the cost and what would be the value to society?”
Learn more about CHI’s efforts to tackle the Hep. C epidemic.
3. Opening Remarks
Lloyd Minor, MD, asked if academic medical centers are going the way of the dinosaur. As Dean of Stanford’s School of Medicine, he’s in a good position to know. And while funding is down, Dr. Minor foresees a leadership role for academic medicine.
“Now’s our time to lead the biomedical revolution. This means moving beyond caring for acute conditions to leading in the entire arena of health. How do we move from an after-the-fact diagnosis and treatment mode into a before-the-fact prevention and prediction mode?”
4. Closing Remarks
“Without good public policy, there is no guarantee that the progress that has brought improved healthcare to so many will continue.”
5. The 2015 California Biomedical Industry Report
CHI’s annual flagship report on the health of California’s biomedical industry was released at the meeting and received excellent reviews. The new, slimmed-down report provides a graphic snapshot of why the state leads the world in biomedical innovation.
Click here to view the report.
Click here to see coverage from the San Francisco Business Times.
6. California State Senator Jerry Hill
Senator Hill represents California’s 13th District, which includes the San Francisco Peninsula, and had a few things to say about public policy. Taking his cue from the 2015 California Biomedical Industry Report, Hill warned that we cannot rest on past successes.
“It’s not enough for us to say we have the most NIH grants; the largest number of employees; the best research and development. We all know that can change in a heartbeat. So it’s important for us in the legislature to work with you collectively… to sustain this industry.”
7. Stem Cells
Clive Svendsen, PhD, directs the Regenerative Medicine Institute at Cedars-Sinai and described how we can use induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells to grow tissue from diseased organs, study how the disease progresses and determine which therapies work best. These iPS cells could provide youthful blood or neurological cells to increase healthspan.
“We’d like to push healthy aging to the maximum, which we believe is 90 years, and then it’s those last few days when you’re in the hospital…If we can rejuvenate blood cells, so we can take anybody’s cells in this room, make young blood cells that are autologous to your cells and put them back in, we think this is going to have beneficial effects.”
8. Value-Driven Innovation
Our healthcare system needs to find new ways to generate value. This is a difficult proposition. On one hand, we can only solve our most intractable, and expensive, health issues through cutting-edge solutions. However, these technologies are often quite expensive. Joshua Ofman, MD, senior vice president of Global Value, Access & Policy at Amgen, moderated a panel that addressed these issues.
“We are at a tipping point where our desire to bring innovation forward and pay for it is bumping up against our budget constraints …We want to reward interventions commensurate with their value – value we can demonstrate through real-world use.”
9. Life Sciences + Silicon Valley
The two largest industries in California are computers and biomedical research and development, so it only makes sense the two would begin some major collaborations. Google’s General Counsel Afia Asamoah described the interdisciplinary environment at Google X, which is working on a number of advanced projects, including smart contact lenses.
“There’s an astrophysicist having a discussion with a bioengineer who is having a discussion with a history major about their different perspectives…and I think that type of environment really fosters innovation.”
10. Tracking Drug Compliance
The company puts a grain-sized sensor in each tablet, which can tell them when the patient took the drug, the dose and other information.
“In the 21st Century, we need not replace our sick care system but complement it with a healthcare system. It needs to be designed to deal with the challenges we face now, which are chronic diseases. And it needs to be based on the signature technologies that are available today…mobile devices that plug into the internet.”