The first complete human genome sequence took 13 years and cost $3 billion to complete. The project was a government-sponsored, multi-national collaborative effort unparalleled in its complexity and depth. The challenge was to identify approximately 23,000 genes and sequence more than three billion base pairs contained in human DNA, with the goal of better understanding the genetic composition of humans. The Human Genome Project was the modern scientific equivalent of putting a man into space orbit. However, 50 years after John Glenn circled the earth, it will still cost you a cool $35 million for a ticket aboard a space mission. By 2013 (ten years after the HGP), it is expected that you’ll be able to get your individual genome sequenced for less than $1000, with results in fewer than 15 minutes! Genome sequencing now costs less, is faster and involves considerably less discomfort than a root canal.
But that’s not the cool part. The cool part is what scientists and software engineers are able to do now that the worlds of computer technology and medicine are coming together. That was the topic of conversation at the CONVERGE Summit for Healthcare Innovation, hosted by MedCity News this week in Philadelphia. Hundreds of healthcare industry leaders and innovators met to discuss the opportunities and challenges created by a world where data, technology and traditional healthcare models are colliding. Many attendees—like Chrysalis Ventures, a VC fund that invests in both healthcare and technology sectors—embody the convergence trend. During one of the event’s panel discussions, Alan Ying of Chrysalis Ventures shared, "We’re invested in a business that does genetic testing that can determine what kind of chemotherapy a person will get."
JumpStart also recently invested in just such a game-changer, GenomOncology. The provider of one of this week’s new tech jobs, GenomOncology is developing software and analytical tools that rapidly interpret sequenced genomic data in order to recommend personalized medical treatment for various cancers. That’s right: a software company that saves lives. The company’s founder and CEO, Manuel Glynias, has been at the forefront of the convergence of computer technology and medicine. A Harvard- and Case Western Reserve University-trained biochemist, Mr. Glynias started his first bioinformatics software company in the '80s. Like genome sequencing, Mr. Glynias has come a long way since then. Prior to licensing his technology, he was selling copies on floppy disk from the trunk of his car.
Robert Hatta is Vice President of Entrepreneurial Talent and assists JumpStart client and portfolio companies in their efforts to recruit and retain entrepreneurial talent at all levels.