Computational Medicine at The Hebrew University
Harnessing Big Data to Combat Disease: Medicine Meets Data Science
Despite great progress made in recent decades in understanding and treating human disease, we are still struggling with the major complex maladies of our time: cancer, neurodegenerative, cardiovascular, metabolic and infectious diseases. To truly move to a new era of medicine - to combat and eliminate such illnesses by addressing individual variations in disease – we need to develop a fundamentally new approach to medical research and treatment.
The foundations for such a new approach are already in our hands. Applying the tools of “big data” to mine and analyze vast caches of detailed molecular, clinical and environmental data will enable a significant leap forward in the battle against endemic illnesses as well as in the care of individual patients. This is the promise of Computational Medicine.
To bring this new vision to fruition, the Hebrew University is planning to establish a new Center for Computational Medicine in a new dedicated Computational Medicine Building.
Although revolutionary computational advances have had an immense impact on most aspects of modern life, they are yet to be fully integrated into clinical medicine, which is generally still managed with traditional procedures, resulting in delayed and, sometimes tragically imprecise or ineffective diagnosis and treatment.
In recent years, transformative technologies have emerged which enable the quick and inexpensive collection of detailed molecular and clinical patient data, including gene mutations and activity, metabolic profiles, physiological measurements, sophisticated images and many others. This data can be further cross-referenced with vast databases that include health informatics from thousands of other patients. Such data collection abilities have been growing dramatically, but the modern applications of this information for better targeting of diseases, specific to each and every patient, are still lagging.
There is immense potential in harnessing cutting-edge methods in data science, Artificial Intelligence and machine learning in order to generate transformative advances in medical science. Such big-data, patient-centered architecture and algorithm composition require the embedding of computational approaches within the medical research and clinical arenas.
Meeting the Challenge
Computational Medicine – Leveraging the flow of information
The Faculty of Medicine of the Hebrew University offers a new vision to bridge the gap between data and patient: the new Center for Computational Medicine.
The Center will implement a transformative approach to combatting disease, by integrating computational data analysis into medical research and practice, and by preparing the next generation of computationally-trained doctors and researchers. No such entity currently exists in Israel, and awareness of the potential of this approach is only now reaching leading institutions worldwide.
The Center will pioneer a new work-flow, starting with the acquisition and integration of detailed disease data, continuing with in-depth data analysis and hypothesis generation, and arriving at the development of novel methods for precision (personalized) disease diagnosis, treatment and prevention.
At the heart of this initiative will be a core team of leading researchers and clinicians with expertise in computational approaches to biomedical research and clinical treatment. Some of these specialists will be recruited upon the establishment of the new Center and the construction of its new home. In addition, a broad group of life- and data-science researchers within and outside of the Hebrew University will be affiliated with this initiative, conducting and supporting research and facilitating the development of individualized therapeutic treatments.
The Center for Computational Medicine will:
- Enable clinicians, biomedical researchers, and computer scientists to conduct interdisciplinary research in key challenging areas at the forefront of medicine.
- Aim to replace conventional models of medical treatment with accurate, predictive, data-driven, patient-oriented digital approaches.
- Be supervised and run by clinician-scientists of the Hebrew University, supported by a committee of scientists from leading research medical centers worldwide.
- Provide state-of-the-art infrastructure, including computational systems, data acquisition and analysis systems, broad-based patient information databases as well as links to international databases.
- Conduct specialized training programs for students, clinicians and researchers in advanced methods in computational medicine.