PLMI 2014 Thought Leaders Consortium

The dietary supplement industry and 21st Century healthcare

By Jeffrey Bland, PhD, President, Personalized Lifestyle Medicine Institute

- Last updated on GMT

Jeffrey Bland, PhD, at the 2014 Thought Leaders Consortium
Jeffrey Bland, PhD, at the 2014 Thought Leaders Consortium
We are witnessing a revolution in healthcare comparable in impact to that which occurred at the turn of the last century with the discovery of the origin of infectious disease.

And do you know this revolution--fueled by the emerging science from the post-genomic era--is creating a new health and wellness economy? Do you recognize that this new economy will change the dietary supplement and natural products industries in ways that were only dreamed of a decade ago?

Recently a small but intense group of leading thinkers came together to discuss a future that will be here before we know it. This event, the 2014 Thought Leaders Consortium​ sponsored by the Personalized Lifestyle Medicine Institute took place October 24-26, 2014 in Seattle, Washington. Under the title of “Clinical Applications of Personalized Lifestyle Medicine,” the room was alive with discussion and debate as participants had the opportunity to be introduced to 21st​ century healthcare and the opportunities that will emerge for business in the new health and wellness economy.

Over the past several decades, financial incentives in healthcare have been tied to disease prevention and treatment. And why wouldn’t that be the case? After all, the concept of wellness was poorly defined and did not really have a scientific basis of understanding. But today,  developments made over the past two decades in genomics, biometrics, and big data represent the disruptive innovations that are providing the basis for 21st​ century healthcare and will shift focus to personalized wellness, creating new market opportunities.

This new industry will germinate from the intersection of these three forces of change and will emerge to have social impact on par with the development of the personal computer, democratized information and communication and changed our global culture forever.

2014 Thought Leaders Consortium

The Thought Leaders Consortium was attended by 90 innovators from many sectors of health care: medicine, genomics, information science, systems biology, nutrition, environmental science, natural products, dietary supplements, and health consumer advocacy.

Sharing the insights

The PLMI has made videos of the presentations from its Thought Leaders Consortium freely available on its website. Please click HERE​ to access the Education Portal.

Over the course of the three days, presentations were made by Thomas Brown, MD, Executive Director of the Swedish Hospital System Cancer Institute, discussing personalized cancer care; Edgar Staren, MD, PhD, President of Advanced Individual Medicine, discussing personalized medicine and oncology; and Roger Newton, PhD, Chairman of Esperion Therapeutics and co-developer of Lipitor, discussing personalized lifestyle medicine and its application to cardiac disease.

The concept of the importance of personalized lifestyle healthcare was defined by James Fries, MD, Professor Emeritus at Stanford School of Medicine, who has conducted more than 30 years of research and clinical development in this field.  

We learned how genomic analysis is being used for personalizing nutrient needs from Michael Nova, MD, PhD, Medical Director of Pathway Genomics. And Rui Chen, PhD, from the Genetics Department at Stanford University, discussed “the quantified human” and the future of personalized healthcare. What will healthcare look like in the next 20 years? What will be the importance of specific dietary and exercise plans? Questions such as there were the central themes of these presentations.

These extraordinary presentations guided our understanding of the many things that are changing in health and disease. There is no doubt we are moving from the age of the average to the age of the individual. As Dr. Nova, who has been working collaboratively with IBM, stated, “Medical information doubles every three years. By 2020, all medical information will double every three days.”

This impact of this renaissance in thinking about health and disease was made more real through the presentations of Dean Ornish, MD, President and Founder of the Preventive Medicine Research Institute, who described his 30 years of research work on reversing heart disease and prostate cancer through the aggressive application of personalized lifestyle medicine, and Dale Bredesen, MD, Director of the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Program at UCLA, who described case histories from his recently published work on reversing dementia through the application of personalized lifestyle medicine.

The Pioneer 100 Project

Pioneer 100 Source ISB
Source: Institute for Systems Biology

We were all brought to the edge of our seats, however, by Lee Hood, MD, PhD​, President and Co-founder of Seattle’s Institute for Systems Biology.  Dr. Hood, a true visionary, set forth his views of the future with a presentation about the Pioneer 100 Project​, which is a “proof of principle” study that evaluates the importance of genomics, lifestyle, diet, and metabolic information in helping an individual to define their own personalized wellness program.

Each of the 100 volunteer subjects in this study have had their genomes sequenced, their gut bacterial microbiomes evaluated quarterly, their blood chemistries and specialized tests that measure resilience and wellness done quarterly, and their fitness, blood pressure, sleep patterns and lifestyle habits evaluated continuously through the use of biotelemetry devices. All of this data has been collected for one year and is used in consultation with a professional wellness coach to define and refine a personalized wellness program for each participant.  This is the first step in what Dr. Hood calls the “21st​ century Framingham Study,” where rather than determine disease risk factors (as the famous Framingham Study has done), the Pioneer 100 Project focuses on defining wellness factors. Dr. Hood’s goal over the next ten years is to fund and recruit a study that would follow 100,000 people for a decade or more.

The data collected from this study will contribute significantly to the evolution of medicine in that it will provide the needed link between genetic background, lifestyle, diet and nutrition, exercise, and health and disease outcomes. Known as the 100K Wellness Project, this study has the potential to provide the scientific underpinning for wellness-focused healthcare that will incorporate personalized lifestyle medicine as a core concept.

The specifics of the design and the emerging data and trends from the pilot Pioneer 100 Project, which will be completed by the end of 2014, were discussed at the meeting by Nathan Price, PhD, Director of the study and Associate Director of the Institute for Systems Biology, and Jennifer Lovejoy, PhD, Pioneer 100 Program Director.

Implications for dietary supplements

Supplements - capsules tablets softgels

How will 21st​ century healthcare influence the dietary supplement industry and its future? This question was addressed in part through presentations at the meeting by Deanna Minich, PhD, President of Food and Spirit, who provided a kaleidoscopic overview of the emerging science concerning the role of diet and nutrients in the delivery of personalized lifestyle healthcare; Sara Gottfried, MD, women’s health expert; Joseph Pizzorno, ND, President of SaluGenecists, which specializes in the development of artificial intelligence tools Wayne Jonas, MD, Director of the Samueli Institute, which is actively engaged in developing wellness programs for the military; and David Jones, MD, past President of the Institute for Functional Medicine, an expert in physician learning.

The “takeaway” from this glimpse of the future of healthcare was to recognize that the connection among genomics and biotelemetry. Smart phones and devices can now be used as tools to measure aspects of health and wellness of the individual. Social media provides a forum for the exchange of health information. And big data computational informatics will be the change agents for healthcare in the next two decades. We are moving from a focus on disease to a focus on wellness.

‘Agents of change’

This is the age of personalization, and data will be a driver for decision making. A new wellness industry will emerge to harness this new information about wellness and resilience. This industry will employ technologies that make wellness fun and easy to achieve. I predict the emphasis in this emergent wellness industry will be less upon specific products, and more on systems that allow for successful personalization that increases compliance with wellness-focused programs and the use of dietary supplements that have strong science supporting their application.

The opportunity to experience a vision of the future of 21st​ healthcare from the insights of the opinion leaders at this meeting was both a gift and an incentive for all. We must keep focused on the future and not the past. Things are changing at a dramatic rate in all sectors of the health economy, from biomedical and information science, to nutrigenomics, to the integration of smart devices into every aspect of our lives. These agents of change are the drivers that are creating new business opportunities in the dietary supplement business, and leaving as obsolete old concepts that are no longer viable business growth opportunities. If you are interested in learning more about the future of healthcare from the experts at the meeting you can view their video presentations at the Personalized Lifestyle Medicine Institute Education Portal​.

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