PWMC 2018: A Testament to Eight Years of Precision Medicine Progress

As more than a thousand attendees recently converged on Mountain View, California, it was clear that significant progress has been made since the first Precision Medicine World Conference (PMWC) took place in 2010.

Examination of the agenda from the 2010 event clearly demonstrates that the industry was still seeking alignment around scientific, clinical, regulatory and economic issues that it must resolve to deliver on the promise of “a superior health care system.” Presentation titles for that event included “Building a Value Proposition for Personalize Medicine” and “Investing in Personalized Medicine: Are we there yet?” That year, the word “clinical” appears only twice in presentation titles.

The 2018 PMWC agenda shows the progress made in only eight years. The words “clinical” and “disruptive” are ubiquitous. We can also see that artificial intelligence (AI) is now entering the mainstream, biomarkers and companion diagnostics are embedded in many clinical workflows and we’re at the point of discussing the widespread clinical utility of liquid biopsy. Researchers, clinicians, regulators and the industry have collectively made great strides since 2010.

Conspicuously absent from the 2010 PMWC agenda was Thermo Fisher Scientific, although its technologies, including sequencers and microarrays since added to its portfolio through acquisition, were well represented in speaker presentations. This year, however, Thermo Fisher experts were well-represented, including James Godsey, who presented “Targeting the Tumor Microenvironment;” Rob Dumanois, a panelist on “Accelerating Clinical Next-Generation Sequencing: Navigating the Path to Reimbursement;” and Simon Cawley, who participated in the showcase “Latest Innovations in NGS-based Liquid Biopsy Research.”

“Since this event first convened in 2010, Thermo Fisher has made tremendous strides, and this was the focus of my presentation,” said Thermo Fisher’s Jim Godsey, “As a corporation, we now provide a wide array of best-in-class technologies that are helping drive new precision medicine applications, from genomics and proteomics to Cryo-EM, biobanking and molecular diagnostics. Today, we’re helping democratize precision medicine-related technologies globally, from genome studies on entire populations to new ways for clinicians to diagnose and treat patients.”

Corina Shtir, the head of precision medicine for Thermo Fisher, attended PMWC and shared her thoughts. “This event is all about lessons learned and remaining challenges, and we can see that technologies around AI, machine learning and digital science, particularly our ability to tap massive databases, will soon enable even more diagnostic and therapeutic breakthroughs. What’s also clear is that ongoing collaboration, such as we see at PMWC, is critical too.”

The Precision Medicine World Conference, the thirteenth installment of the event, took place at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, Calif., Jan. 22-24. The program included more than 350 talks covering all facets of precision medicine. Co-hosts for this year’s Silicon Valley event included the University of California, San Francisco; Duke University; Duke Health; Stanford Health Care; Johns Hopkins University and the University of Michigan.