Science Forum: How Science Could Better Empower Healthcare Industry was successfully held on June 9 in Yabuli, China. The Forum invited Michael Shepard and Aaron Ciechanover as keynote speakers, Jiren LIU, Ligang ZHANG, Yeqing ZHU, Zhantao YANG and Xianting DING as panel guests. Lei CHEN from WLA Development Foundation hosted the forum.
“Big data is everywhere. It doesn’t matter what aspect of drug development you’re looking at, you need it to connect all the different pieces,” Michael Shepard, 2019 Lasker-DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award laureate, stressed during his speech via video. Besides, he also emphasized the importance of collaboration between physicians and scientists, “The physicians need to be in a network with scientists, so they can collaborate. Scientists will then have better access to important diseases, tissues, and understands what is the trigger for the disease.” Shepard held the opinion that “everything begins and ends with the patients”, since patients are where the study of diseases start, and ends as well when the approved drug proved to work in treating the patients’ diseases.
Michael Shepard, 2019 Lasker-DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award
Aaron Ciechanover proposed a new idea when talking about actions in response to population ageing, “We don’t want to treat sick people; we want to keep them healthy.” Ciechanover advocated healthy ageing, which needs people to change lifestyle, keep mental and physical exercises and keep diet, so that they can stay healthy even at an advanced age. Zhantao YANG, Deputy Secretary-General of WLA and senior scientist of WLA Labs, also stressed healthy ageing during the panel talk, “According to the World Population Ageing Report released by the UN, in 2050, 80% of older people will be living in low- and mid-income countries, which certainly is a huge challenge to our country, so early diagnosis matters a lot to ensuring healthy ageing of old people.”
Zhantao YANG, Deputy Secretary-General of WLA and senior scientist of WLA Labs
In addition, Aaron Ciechanover advocated creating an age-friendly environment and encouraging old people to keep their normal activities, instead of asking them to retire at a relatively young age, stay at home and do nothing. “We have to bring them out of their home. We have to keep their normal activities...Basically, we have to give these people the sense that the society needs them, that they are not just people that finish their function in the society, complete their lives, sit aside at home and do nothing. By giving them feelings that they are part of the families, the society, we are also increasing their healthy ageing.”
Aaron Ciechanover, 2004 Nobel Prize in Chemistry
During the panel talk, the guests exchanged their thoughts earnestly and all shared fabulous opinions. “We all talk about big data, but I think ‘small data’ means even more. Small data refers to personal physical indicators. Many diseases now are caused by unhealthy lifestyle, like overeating, binge drinking, obesity, lack of exercises and insufficient sleep. If everyone learns about their physical data and possible reasons behind it, they can mange it themselves. Healthcare is not only the job of physicians; individuals can do a lot more for themselves,” Jiren LIU, Chairman of Neusoft Corporation, said.
Jiren LIU, Chairman of Neusoft Corporation
Moreover, to track individual physical indicators can help more precise diagnosis. “Healthcare is a means while health is the purpose, ” Yeqing ZHU, Executive Director & CEO of New Horizon Health, added, “The ultimate purpose of healthcare industry is to ensure that people live healthy.”
Yeqing ZHU, Executive Director & CEO of New Horizon Health
Interdisciplinary science is a hot topic that is expected to have disruptive impact. Xianting DING, Professor & Deputy Director of Institute for Personalized Medicine, School of BME, SJTU, and member of the WLF Young Scientists Committee, gave two examples of interdisciplinary study. One was that chemists use element detection technology, which overturns the traditional fluorescence detection, and the other was that computational biologists detected proteins expressed specifically in cancer through tracking DNA mutations, and made personalized treatment possible. From these two examples, we can see chemists overturned tradition detection research, and computational scientists changed traditional drug development. “I believed that interdisciplinary study is a very significant future direction,” Prof. Ding really spoke high of interdisciplinary study.
Xianting DING, member of the WLF Young Scientists Committee
Ligang ZHANG, founder, Chairman & CEO of iKang Healthcare Group, talked about early detection of diseases. “Nowadays, extensive application of imaging, gene detection, and AI, has made remarkable progress in detecting diseases at an early stage, which cannot be done before.”
Ligang ZHANG, founder, Chairman & CEO of iKang Healthcare Group
At the end, Prof. Ding summarized, “Our labs, and the entire industry have been thinking about how to empower healthcare for the following decades. I’m looking forward to seeing that in the future, with advanced technology, we can acquire a little tissue, or just a few cells to diagnose if the person is in a state of health, sub-health or sickness, to create personalized treatment and develop personalized medicine with specialists from relevant areas. This sounds splendid. I hope in the following 10 or 20 years it can really happen.”
From left: Lei CHEN, Jiren LIU, Zhantao YANG, Ligang ZHANG, Yeqing ZHU, Xianting DING