Healthcare officials, technology experts and other industry leaders came together to drive advancements in the fields of precision medicine, data, and artificial intelligence during the 2021 DataAI (DANS) and American Association for Precision Medicine (AAPM) conference.
AAPM president and CEO Dr Prasun Mishra delivered the opening remarks at the conference, which took place over January 7 and January 8.
“AAPM launched DANS in partnership with the tech companies, including Google, with the grand reason to leverage recent technologies, technological advances in the data AI [artificial intelligence] sector to transform the field of health care and medicine,” Mishra said.
“Here, we are merging data analytics and artificial intelligence.”
Data, he said, is becoming the new currency and the new oil.
“Metaphorically, this sector is going to be soon the heart that pumps the economic blood to the vital organs of the global economy,” Mishra said. “We felt that there is a need to build this community and to bring the data AI stakeholders together to help build solutions that will eventually transform the field of health care and medicine.”
The opening session on January 7 was a panel on the investment landscape in the data AI and healthcare sectors. The discussion was moderated by Jay Chen, a partner at Hope Venture Labs, who underlined the importance of impact investments in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
“2020 is a once in a lifetime experience for our generation,” Chen said. “Covid-19 is a wake up call for many leaders in the business. There are many conversations about how businesses can be doing well and doing good at the same time.”
One topic Chen introduced to the panelists was how the pandemic affected their approaches to investment to emphasize impact creation on top of financial returns.
Panelist Sanjit Singh Dang, a co-founder of U First Capital, said that while companies have a financial responsibility, there is also an opportunity to be more socially responsible at the same time.
“I feel that it is a growing realization that impact and financial gain can actually be done together,” Singh said. “We need to look at them as two parallel tracks going hand in hand.”
Darwin Ling, founder of Good AI Capital, also spoke of combining the search for financial return and impact in investment.
“We kind of structured our fund, our model so that they’re not being viewed as two or even three tracks,” Ling said. “We actually have one single line…This is what we call our secret sauce, if you will.”
Chen also asked the panelists what they see as the real drivers or incentives that need to happen to make impact venture capital investing more mainstream.
Irina Meyer, founder of Sils Capital Venture Fund, said that working collaboratively with different groups and contributing her work to recipients she believes to be vital is important in driving impactful investments.
“Oftentimes, I will provide support for years…without even getting into formal agreements by bringing people in and making the topic contagious and making people empirically understand how well those types of endeavors are doing,” Meyer said. “On the capital side, we should not be shy to express our passion and contribute our work to what we feel is important, and then the money follows as far as revenue for our funds or success with the specific venture in which we invested.”
Arijit Bhattacharyya, founder and CEO of Virtualinfocom, spoke about evaluating possible receivers of venture capital for a dual desire to generate revenue and have a positive influence on the world.
“We found that this is one of the best ways where we can test one startup before we invest a bit of capital, and we can have a little bit of confidence from all of our investors as well,” Bhattacharyya said.
The day’s keynote, moderated by Mishra, centered on global leadership in the data AI and healthcare sectors.
Erika Brown, a co-founder of the PALTOWN foundation, presented on her experience as a cancer “recoveree” and mission in creating a space where similar patients can connect to share information and experiences.
This led to her launching “Colontown” as a Facebook group after her recovery, which built a bridge for various people, patients, caregivers and family members affected by cancer. Colontown evolved into an umbrella group for many other types of distinct disease-related experiences.
“I am starting to create an ecosystem of disease specific communities, patient communities that will be noted for these same differentiators that I mentioned above,” Brown said. “I’m convinced that I can have a greater and greater impact on more and more patients. Data AI and everything is going to help me with all of that, and obviously the computerized world that we all live in is going to help me with that.”
Another keynote speaker was Ritesh Jain, co-founder of Infynit and former COO of HSBC, who spoke on data and AI within financial services. His insights centered on the responsibility of the role healthcare and other organizations have in managing data they gather from patients and customers.
“There are multiple stories we all have heard about, cliches like Facebook or Amazon or Google, where data hasn’t been handled properly…It costs people, specifically when it comes down to health,“ Jain said.
The January 8 sessions focused more on the advancement of precision medicine.
Shannon Muir, a co-director for the California Initiative to Advance Precision Medicine, was one of the keynote speakers. She discussed the importance of her work in advancing that specific healthcare sector, especially in the light of California’s high income-inequality rates.
“We try to distinguish ourselves by really focusing on cross-sector partnerships, between researchers, communities, healthcare providers, the industry and others,” Muir said. “Baked into the statue is that part of our mission is to reduce health disparities in California. From the very beginning, that has been a huge thrust and we kind of doubled down on that in the last few years.”
Muir also strongly emphasized community researchers’ collaborations to ensure results are aligned with California community priorities.
Lynda Chin, president and CEO of Apricity Health, spoke on the potential for precision advancements in oncology in light of the genomic technology that accelerates that medicinal sector.
“With access to data and evidence, we can be more precise in our decisions and that will allow us to think about improving the outcome,” Chin said.