A Real World Dialogue with Dr. Leroy Hood of Institute of Systems Biology

Predicting the Evolution of Real World Evidence in the Next Five Years


A Real World Dialogue with Dr. Leroy Hood of Institute of Systems Biology

On Wednesday February 24, Syapse’s Real-World Dialogues series kicked-off with industry heavyweight, Dr. Leroy (Lee) Hood’s, perspective on how real-world evidence will evolve over the years and its potential to end suffering from cancer and other health challenges.   

A world-renowned scientist and recipient of the National Medal of Science in 2011, Dr. Leroy Hood co-founded the Institute for Systems Biology (ISB) in 2000 and served as its first President from 2000-2017. Dr. Hood is currently carrying out studies in Alzheimer’s Disease, cancer, and wellness, and pioneering a 1 million patient genome/phenome project, bringing scientific (quantitative) wellness to the contemporary U.S. health care system. In addition to having played founding roles in 15 biotechnology companies, including Amgen, Applied Biosystems, Arivale, and Nanostring, Dr. Hood has co-authored textbooks in biochemistry, immunology, molecular biology, genetics, and systems biology.

Dr. Hood considers real-world data to be a natural subset of big data, generated from humans in states of both wellness and disease which can lead to a better understanding of both entities. For Dr. Hood, real-world data spans genomics, quantification of proteins and metabolites, the microbiome and even EHRs – essentially anything relating to health. 

The webinar discussion dove deeper into genomics and phenomics – with Dr. Hood providing a clearer understanding of phenomics and its implications in biomedical research and medical practice. He detailed how both concepts play a role in determining health with, in his view,  genomics (genetics) contributing 30%, phenomics physical and biochemical traits that include manifestation through lifestyle and environment) contributing 60%, and the hospital/provider sector contributing 10%. Dr. Hood went on to explain how medicine is just beginning to understand the influential role phenomics plays in health and well-being.   

As a pioneer in systems biology, Dr. Hood discussed challenges he faced in the late 20th century, as many doubted its relevance to science and medicine. By studying and understanding the larger and diverse systems relating human biology and how they become disease perturbed, Dr. Hood believes it is possible to better identify potential biomarkers of disease, and in turn develop more effective therapies.

Dr. Hood went on to comment on imputing causality in big data, a primary focus at ISB, and how machine learning classifies and stratifies the data to create hypotheses. He also explained the use of digital twins to fully understand a disease – an approach used in Alzheimer’s disease research.   

Dr. Hood sees the next immediate focus for real-world data in disease treatment being the maintenance of the non-disease state, i.e. health. He discussed more effective use of genomic data which could better leverage phenomics data to sustain wellness, and predict risk of disease, and disease itself. Ultimately, Dr. Hood believes that the healthcare system must embrace preventive care and he is hopeful that value-based care (a model where payers compensate providers in accordance with how well they keep their patients) will pave the way for the healthcare system that is data and wellness driven. 

Towards the end of the discussion, Dr. Hood opined that only 1% of the genomics revolution has been realized! Most of the understanding and application of that knowledge lies ahead. Given our health challenges in 2020 and 2021, it is good to know the future of health is full of hope, excitement and promise.  

Please click here to view the full discussion.