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Conference focuses on use of big data by the life sciences industry and related challenges

April 28, 2014


BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Recent news points to an expansion of big data's role in clinical health care. An Indiana University conference May 9 will examine its opportunities for life sciences companies as well as consumers.

While it took 13 years and several billion dollars to map the first human genome, big data can be used to map a person's own genome in a matter of days, costing a few thousand dollars. Investments in electronic medical records have resulted in reduced doctor's office visits and considerable savings to consumers and their insurance companies.

"The use of business analytics is revealing a wide range of insights across a variety of industries," said George Telthorst, director of the Center for the Business of Life Sciences in Indiana University's Kelley School of Business.

The same kind of technology that allows Netflix and Amazon to make suggestions to consumers can help doctors keep track of their patients' health and offer options for preventive care. It also has the potential of helping researchers identify needs and point to potential new products or different uses for ones already on the market.

"While this crunching of big data has been helpful to pharmaceutical and medical device companies, it must be balanced by privacy requirements, thus creating other questions about how easy it will be to glean useful information," Telthorst added.

The conference, "Informatics/Big Data Uses and Challenges in the Life Sciences," will take place from 8 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. at the Indiana Government Center South, 402 W. Washington St. in Indianapolis. It will feature several health care industry practitioners experienced with using analytics. The registration fee is $150.

Students at accredited Indiana institutions of higher education may qualify for a discounted rate. Registration and additional information are available online or by contacting Kelli Conder at the Kelley School, 812-856-0915 or

The Indiana Life Sciences Collaboration Series is presented by the IU Kelley School of Business, its Center for the Business of Life Sciences, BioCrossroads and Covance. Primary sponsors for this conference include the Indiana Economic Development Corp., Ice Miller LLP, Oleen Pinnacle Healthcare Consulting and Omnicare.

Conference details:

Following registration and networking from 8 to 9 a.m., Dr. Atul Butte, division chief and associate professor at the Stanford University School of Medicine, will give the keynote presentation, "Translating a Trillion Points of Data Into Therapies, Diagnostics and New Insights Into Disease."

Butte, who has degrees in computer science and medicine from Brown University and a doctorate from Harvard Medical School and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has been a software engineer and a pediatric endocrinologist and is the author of more than 140 publications.

In 2013, he was recognized by the White House as an Open Science Champion of Change for promoting science through publicly available data. He also is a founder of Personalis, which provides clinical interpretation of whole genome sequences; Carmenta Bioscience, which researches diagnostics for pregnancy complications; and NuMedii, which looks for new uses for drugs through open molecular data.

Following a mid-morning break, the first of two panel discussions will focus on life sciences' use of big data. Panelists will be Dr. Jon Rahman, former senior vice president and chief medical officer at St. Vincent Health; Diana Cusano, manager of the population health analytics team at Humana Inc.; Dimitris Agrafiotis, vice president and chief data officer at Covance; and John Johns, director of business analytics and strategic insights of the Roche Diabetes Care division of Roche Diagnostics Corp. Mark Kash, vice president for staffing at Oleen Pinnacle Healthcare Consulting, will moderate.

The luncheon keynote, "The Conundrum of Solving Policy Management: Where Should We Look?," will be presented by Sandra Petronio, a professor in the IU Department of Communication Studies at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis and the IU School of Medicine. She also is a senior affiliate faculty member in the Charles Warren Fairbanks Center for Medical Ethics.

The afternoon's panel discussion will focus on implementation of big data and related issues. Panelists will be Michael Mattioli, associate professor in the IU Maurer School of Law; Buck Woody, senior technical specialist-global in the Microsoft Azure Team; Dr. Titus Schleyer, director of the Center for Biomedical Informatics at the Regenstrief Institute; and Stacey Yount, vice president for global project management, data services and alliance management at Covance. Thomas Walsh, a partner at Ice Miller LLP, will moderate.

Telthorst will wrap up the day's discussion at 3:15 p.m.

Other primary conference sponsors are AIT Laboratories; Biomet Inc.; Cook Medical; Duke Energy; Eli Lilly and Co.; Faegre Baker & Daniels LLP; Hill-Rom Services Inc.; Humana; Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute; IU Research Center for Chinese Politics and Business; IU School of Medicine; MedVenture Technology; Omnicare; Pearl Pathways LLC; Purdue University; Roche Diagnostics; Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP; and Zimmer.

Supporting sponsors are the Indianapolis Business Journal, Inside Indiana Business with Gerry Dick; Miles Printing; Cabello Associates; and VMS BioMarketing.

Marketing sponsors are Aptalis Pharma; Bloomington Life Sciences Partnership; Commissioning Agents Inc.; Harlan Laboratories Inc.; Iotron Industries; IU College of Arts and Sciences; IU Kelley School of Business, Business of Medicine Programs; IU Kelley School of Business, Evening MBA; IU Kelley School of Business, Alumni Association; IU Robert H. McKinney School of Law; IU School of Informatics and Computing; IU Office of the Vice President for Engagement; IU Research and Technology Corp.; Mid-America Sciences Park; Novus Biologicals; and Performance Validation.