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SAN ANTONIO - A record crowd of more than 400 members and supporters of San Antonio's biomedical sector paid tribute September 20, 2011 to Leroy Hood, MD, PhD of Seattle, president and co-founder of the Institute for Systems Biology and recipient of BioMed SA's 6th Annual Julio Palmaz Award for Innovation in Healthcare and the Biosciences.
The award, named after Palmaz Stent inventor Julio Palmaz, MD, of the UT Health Science Center in San Antonio, honors individuals from anywhere in the world, including San Antonio, who have made significant contributions to advance the healthcare and bioscience fields.
Calling him "a true icon," Palmaz Committee Chair Robert W. Gracy, PhD of the University of Texas at San Antonio, described Dr. Hood as a scientist, inventor, visionary, and pioneer who has led a "paradigm shift" in the world's understanding of the life sciences and medicine. Hood's invention of five key tools led to the sequencing of the human genome.
"His insight and innovations have led to the great developments of the last quarter of the 20th century and have given rise to the disciplines of genomics, proteomics, systems biology, and molecular medicine," said Dr. Gracy. "These already influence our daily lives and certainly will have profound effects as we go forward in the 21st century."
Dr. Lee Hood Receives National Medal of Science
P4 medicine: Fundamentally altering healthcare
Dr. Hood focused his acceptance remarks on his latest initiative known as "P4 medicine," representing a proactive "systems" approach to medicine that is predictive, preventive, personalized and participatory.
Within 10 years, he said, P4 medicine will generate billions of data points around each individual, creating complexities that will fundamentally alter how we think about biology and medicine and putting the patient at the center of the healthcare network.
Dr. Hood predicted that P4 medicine will have profound societal implications, forcing every sector of the healthcare industry to revise its business plan, leading to what he called "enormous economic opportunity." The digitalization of medicine represents a larger revolution than the prior digitalization of information technology and communications, fundamentally changing how we think about health with the potential to sharply turn around the escalating costs of healthcare, he said.
Palpable sense of community
Calling the sense of community at the dinner "palpable," BioMed SA Chair Kenneth P. Trevett described the San Antonio strength and spirit that underlie the growth of the biomedical and other technology sectors within the local economy.
"Like our honoree this evening, Dr. Lee Hood, San Antonio represents the best of biomedicine - goal-oriented, driven by principle, unshackled from the past, and unafraid of the future," Trevett said. "This city is making a difference worldwide in how we think about disease and how to conquer it."
Presenting Sponsor representative, Philip J. Pfeiffer, Chairman of the San Antonio Medical Foundation, explained how his organization is broadening its focus to include corporate and community wellness in line with Dr. Hood's emphasis on P4 medicine. Earlier that day, Dr. Hood participated in an informal roundtable discussion with members of the SAMF wellness committees.
Dinner guests included Major General Byron Hepburn, Director of the San Antonio Military Health System and Commander of the 59th Medical Wing, and Major General Ted Wong, Commanding General of Brooke Army Medical Center. Also present was last year's Palmaz Award recipient, Mauli Agrawal, PhD, Dean of Engineering at UTSA.
The audience also included a group of local high school sophomores and juniors participating in the Voelcker Biomedical Research Academy at the UT Health Science Center at San Antonio. Earlier that day, Dr. Hood delivered the keynote address at the graduation ceremony of the Voelcker Academy's inaugural class of high school seniors.