University of Oxford
Health is the biggest, most important and fastest growing industry in the world. All human characteristics, including complex traits and susceptibility to diseases, are strongly influenced by genetic factors, although until recently it has been nigh on impossible to take genetic information into account in healthcare.
This has changed – over the past two decades the fastest technological advance in history has reduced the cost of human genome sequencing dramatically to a thousand dollars or so, with further reductions to come – prompting an exponential increase in the number and scale of national genome sequencing programmes, which will usher in a new era of personalised medicine and ‘precision’ healthcare. Soon individual genome sequences will be a standard part of health records. This brings human biology to centre stage, with research and the clinic collapsing into one: millions of genome sequences integrated with millions of clinical records and, equally importantly, information from personal devices will create a multi-dimensional data ecology that will revolutionise medical research. It will also transform personal health and health system management, and provide the platform for many innovative enterprises, requiring advanced systems not only to secure the privacy and provenance of the data, but also to enable its analysis by deep learning and artificial intelligence.
The last of the great cottage industries of the 20th century is set to become the most important of the data-intensive industries of the 21st.
John is a leading authority on the human genome and genome medicine. He is currently Visiting Professor at the University of Oxford, prior to which he was the Chief Executive of Genomics England and Director of the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in Sydney, where he established one of the first clinically accredited genome analysis enterprises.
John was a member of the Australian Health Ethics Committee, where he was involved in the development of the National Statement on the Ethical Conduct of Research involving Humans, and the Australian Law Reform Commission Report into the Protection of Human Genetic Information.