Ira Pastor, ideaXme longevity and aging ambassador and founder of Bioquark, interviews Dr. Leroy Hood, Chief Strategy Officer, Co-founder and Professor, Institute for Systems Biology, SVP and Chief Science Officer, Providence St. Joseph Health.
Ira Pastor Comments:
On the last several shows we have spent time on different hierarchical levels the biologic-architecture of the life, disease and aging process. We’ve spent some time talking about the genome, the microbiome, tissue engineering, dabbled a bit in the area of quantum biology, organism hydro-dynamics, and even chronobiology.
Today, though, we are going to step back from the more traditional reductionist thinking that has dominated the biotech landscape for many decades, which relies on pulling the proverbial pieces apart, and looking at the larger picture, putting the pieces back together, with the appreciation that when it comes to biology, the whole is in many ways much greater than just the sum of the parts.
These very important steps fall to the domain of systems biology, a field of study that looks specifically at the interactions between these components of biological systems, how these interactions give rise to the function and behavior of that system, and the respective biological processes, whether that be embryogenesis, morphogenesis, growth, development, aging, disease, or degeneration.
It is a truly cross-disciplinary field, integrating many scientific disciplines including biology, computer science, engineering, bioinformatics, physics and others, all working in synergy to predict how these integrated systems change over time, under varying conditions, and to develop solutions. Applications are not just for health, but also potentially in the area of agriculture, ecology, and environmental issues.
In the human health space, systems biology’s translational opportunities include, but are not limited to, the discovery of new biomarkers for disease, stratification of patients based on pharmacogenomic/toxicogenomic profiles, and of course the development of novel drugs and interventions that take into account these system processes.
Dr. Leroy Hood
So for today’s guest, I could think of no one better to talk with us about this topic and take us into the future, and I am truly honored that someone of his caliber has offered his time, than Chief Strategy Officer, Co-founder and Professor, Institute for Systems Biology, SVP and Chief Science Officer, Providence St. Joseph Health, Dr. Leroy Hood.
Routinely listed as one of the top biotech visionaries and innovators of all time, Dr. Hood’s work has had a resounding effect on the advancement of science since the 1960s. Starting out with a MD The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, and PhD Caltech in biochemistry, Dr. Hood was then involved in the development of six instruments critical for contemporary biotechnology as we know it to function: namely, automated DNA sequencers, DNA synthesizers, protein sequencers, peptide synthesizers, the ink jet printer for constructing DNA arrays and large-scale synthesis of DNA, and the nanostring instrument for the single molecule analysis of RNA and DNA. These instruments literally opened the door to the era of high-throughput biological data and “big” data in biology and medicine.
Dr. Hood also helped pioneer the human genome program, making it possible with the automated DNA sequencer and the peptide synthesizer, used in the synthesis of the HIV protease with Stephen Kent leading to the development of the first protease inhibitors for AIDS.
Dr. Hood’s Rich Career
In 1992, Dr. Hood created the first cross-disciplinary biology department, Molecular Biotechnology, at the University of Washington. Then, in 2000, he left the UW to co-found Institute for Systems Biology (ISB), the first organization of its type committed to a systems approach to biology and disease. Since then, he has pioneered systems medicine and scientific wellness in the years since ISB’s founding.
He has been a proponent of a health care that is predictive, preventive, personalized and participatory (P4 medicine). In 2016, he oversaw ISB’s affiliation with Providence St. Joseph Health (PSJH) with the goal of bringing personalized medicine to every patient.
Dr. Hood has made many seminal discoveries in the fields of immunology, neurobiology, cancer biology and biotechnology. Most recently, he has been a leader in the development of systems biology and its applications to cancer and neurodegenerative diseases, as well as pioneering technologies and strategies that bring systems biology to personalized medicine.
In addition to his groundbreaking research, Dr. Hood has published 750 papers, received 36 patents, 17 honorary degrees and more than 100 awards and honors. He is one of 20 individuals elected to all three National Academies: the National Academy of Science, the National Academy of Engineering, and the National Academy of Medicine.
His amazing life was recently profiled in the book Hood: Trailblazer of the Genomics Age.
On this show we will hear from Dr. Hood about:
His background; how he got interested in science; biochemistry, medicine, and his pathway to founding ISB. The pathway on selling the concept of systems biology to the rest of the academic and industrial world. The model of P4 medicine — the clinical face of systems medicine. The importance of technology transfer and biotech company spin-offs in allowing him to achieve so much in his career to date. His views on aging and longevity biotechnology, “scientific wellness”, and his “Pioneer 100 Wellness Project.”
Credits: Ira Pastor interview video, text, and audio.
Follow Ira Pastor on Twitter: @IraSamuelPastor
Follow Dr. Leroy Hood on Twitter: @ISBLeeHood
If you liked this interview, be sure to check out our interview with Professor Shai Shen-Orr on the use of AI for drug discovery!
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