School of Medicine
The Promise of Individualized Medicine
From our first breath, our lives move along a path of health that is predisposed by our genes. That trajectory can be influenced by certain environmental factors. The path can also be controlled by our own behaviors. Most importantly, that path can be redirected toward a healthier and longer life.
At Johns Hopkins, doctors and researchers are working to use the health information currently available paired with data from entire groups of people, while continuously embracing the new information. Twenty years ago, the twin biotechnology and information revolutions brought about an avalanche of new bioscience and medical data — DNA sequences, RNA expression levels, protein structures, epigenetic markers and dynamic images of the brain.
Understanding and making use of this information, both for individuals and healthcare providers, comprises a new field known as big data science that requires new ways of managing, visualizing and getting answers from large and complex data sets — ways in which Johns Hopkins is already a leader.
Doctors, researchers, nurse practitioners and many others integrate knowledge about health from multiple arenas into individual practice. By harnessing the combined assets of the university’s academic divisions, including the School of Medicine, the Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) and the Johns Hopkins Health System, personalized medicine can improve the health of people through the effective use of information, demonstrating how customized health decisions can make world-class affordable patient care a 21st-century reality.
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The Success of Failure
In a 20-month period between 2006 and 2008, Chuck Tuchinda, Med ’01, oversaw the introduction of three medical information technology products, earning his then employer $25 million. But Tuchinda, who is the chief innovation officer for the health care arm of Hearst Business Media and VP for innovation at two of its subsidiaries, Zynx Health and First Databank, maintains his method for success “is all about failure.”
“It’s all about experimenting and failing early,” explained Tuchinda in the Fall 2012 Hopkins Medicine Magazine. “Rather than try to be a fortune teller, saying, this definitely will be the thing that works, I test several ideas by prototyping them, get feedback, and then make a more informed decision about which to pursue.”
“I launched two products last year and I probably had 18 other projects fail, to get a yield of two,” he adds. Yet those two products already have earned Hearst more than $1 million in new business.
One product – AlertSpace - designed to improve the alert system in many electronic medical record programs, which can bombard physicians and cause “alert fatigue.” “We wanted to build a system that would work with the major EMRs and cut out the ‘noise’ so that each message had some meaning to it,” he says.
Tuchinda’s interest in medical software began at Hopkins when his research project, overseen by pediatric cardiologist W. Reid Thompson (Fellow, HS, 1984-87), led to development of a heart sounds database.
At Hopkins he also invented PagerBox, an online system that sends text messages directly to alphanumeric pagers, cellphones and other devices and keeps patient information flowing to the internal faculty and staff. He and oncology researcher Luis Diaz (HS, 1998-2001; fellow, 2001-04, faculty, 2004-07) worked together to ensure that PagerBox re-engineered the process of inpatient health care practice.
After completing his internship and residency at Hopkins, Tuchinda earned an MBA at Harvard in 2006 and then assumed three vice presidencies.
Tuchinda and his wife, pediatrician Lynn Peng, Med ’01, have two daughters, Alexis and Natalie. He says it’s too early to tell if they will enter the family business of medicine. “One of my daughters has said she wants to be a doctor … but she also said she wants to be a Power Ranger.”
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Stethoscope Ceremony and Reception
On October 10, the Class of 2016 gathered to receive a welcoming gift - an engraved stethoscope. The ceremony, co-hosted by the Johns Hopkins Medical & Surgical Association (JHM&SA), sets the tone for the rest of their experience at Johns Hopkins. Alumni and faculty joined the celebration to share stories of their medical school experiences. One hundred and thirteen students attended the event, and speakers included Dr. Paul Rothman, Dean and CEO, Johns Hopkins Medicine; Eileen P.G. (Patti) Vining, Med ‘72, President of the JHM&SA; David Hellmann, Med ’77; Ralph Hruban, Med ’85; William Nelson V, Med '85 and Kristy Weber, Med '91. Thank you to all those who attended!
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Take a Peek at What's Going on at the Hub
Launched in early September, The Hub is Johns Hopkins online news center for all its diverse activities. It's a place where you can see what's new, what's important and what the many divisions of Johns Hopkins are up to. Take a look for yourself.