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Advancing Precision Medicine, Promoting Better Patient Outcomes

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The U.S. is making exciting strides in precision medicine. Yesterday, Intel and the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT announced revolutionary developments advancing the use of high-performance computing for genomics analytics that will accelerate precision medicine. Together we have created a new architecture, the Broad-Intel Genomics Stack (BIGstack), that dramatically improves the genomic analytics pipeline and supports data volumes at unprecedented levels. This platform will enable researchers to better understand the molecular drivers of diseases such as cancer and advance precision medicine for more diseases, helping more patients around the world.

The convergence of technology, research and medicine is a critical area of the economy. To ensure the U.S. is at the center of global life sciences research, clinical and pharmaceutical discovery and bioscience innovation in the years to come, we need to encourage strategic national investment in precision medicine and establish public-private partnerships that build on and accelerate the work of private sector and academic research leaders.

As technology and medical innovators invest in R&D, develop new devices and procedures and accelerate technologies like artificial intelligence to advance precision medicine, we need to ensure that innovation is protected. This will both safeguard revolutionary research, and support an ecosystem that nurtures and rewards future discoveries and advancements.

Kay Eron, general manager for health and life sciences at Intel, recently testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on the vital role that strong, high-quality intellectual property protection plays in advancing health innovation, accelerating precision medicine and improving patient outcomes. Here are three of the key points that she made:

  • High-tech and medicine are converging, and we’ve reached a pace of innovation we’ve never seen before. Already, patients are benefiting from high-performance computing that provides genetic sequencing for cancer patients in one day instead of one week. Convergence is enabling more targeted treatment, streamlining analysis of objective data from wearables, and powering the secure sharing of genomic research across public and private databases.

  • Strong patents benefit scientific progress and improve patient care. Weak ones hurt both. Progress in the health and life sciences sector depends on a strong, but balanced patent system that promotes innovation and prevents misuse of the system such as litigation by patent trolls. In the process of reviewing and granting patents, it’s important that we focus on high patent quality.

  • Health innovation thrives in an interdependent and connected environment, built on strong patents from diverse companies and industries working together. For example, precision medicine depends on medical monitoring and diagnostic equipment operating in a seamless and interconnected world—collecting, processing and transmitting data to other devices through constantly updated networking technologies. If any part of that system breaks down because of a legal action associated with low-quality patents underlying the various technologies, the entire system can be brought to a standstill. This jeopardizes the groundbreaking advances that high performance computing and data analytics would otherwise make possible.

At Intel, we’re partnering with medical experts in universities and institutes across the country, such as the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT, to apply our technology to support clinical trials, create data exchange models and contribute to research studies that advance health innovation and improve patient outcomes.

With the support of national leaders and a strong system in place to protect high-quality health innovation, the U.S. is on the cusp of incredible advances in precision medicine.

Alice B. Borrelli is global director for healthcare policy at Intel. She is retiring in June, 2017.