The BioHealth Capital Region Forum offered many insights into the state of the industry, but the most prevalent theme was certainly big data. Panelists and keynote speakers across multiple events spoke about the importance of data in the biohealth and life sciences industry and how artificial intelligence will help the sector innovate.
Keynote speaker Chris Monroe, co-founder and chief scientist at IonQ, discussed how biotech experts can use quantum mechanics and quantum computers to solve problems within the healthcare industry. Monroe is a faculty member at Duke University and the University of Maryland and studies how Q-bits and quantum computers can help optimize complex problems
“Quantum computers look to be able to solve difficult models,” Monroe said. “Models are all over the place. It’s not exactly just big data and AI, but how you use that big data to refine models and solve those models, like optimizing a stock market portfolio or optimizing how certain compounds would interact to create an interesting drug.”
Monroe said there are plenty of ways to apply quantum computers to work in biotech. Because quantum computers measure all the different ways Q-bits interact on waves, they would be great at solving problems that involve sequencing the human genome. These problems often require optimization to solve, which is one of quantum computers’ strong suits.
Specifically, Monroe called on companies and laboratories to get into quantum work by partnering with academic institutions.
“With quantum computing, I think the culture needs to change because computing is changing. In the interim, we have a big opening for national laboratories to take the lead because they have everything,” Monroe said. ‘They have engineers, seasoned engineers that build devices, and they also have the academic mindset we see at universities, and they’re starting to get up to speed.”
The panel “Biomedical Big Data: How to Get Real Smart in a World Full of Artificial Intelligence” showcased leaders from three different AI companies who spoke on the applications of AI in the life sciences field. One of those leaders, Ellington West, CEO of Sonavi Labs, uses AI to help diagnose and treat respiratory diseases. West became interested in solving the problem after learning that pediatric pneumonia is the leading cause of death of children worldwide.
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