Health Data So Big, Boats So Small: Harvard’s Precision Medicine 2015

My comment on Harvard Med School’s Precision Medicine 2015 Patient Driven: Harvard’s Precision Medicine 2015 Patient Driven was a truly excellent conference. There was a bit of deja vu with themes echoed and amplified the following week at the NIH Precision Medicine Initiative Advisory Committee Work Group on Patient Engagement and Health Equity in MD, and again at the White House Champions of Change for Precision Medicine event July 8th. I had the good fortune to attend all three.

As we launch creatively ahead to a future of the right treatment for the right person, at the right time, in the right place, and at the right cost — we need to sweep away a few of the sticky regulatory cobwebs that hold back healthcare progress and patient safety. This is especially needed in the area of medical devices.

We need an equal commitment to Precision Devices to ensure that they are “right for you” before they are installed, as tolerance vs. toxicity varies with genetics, especially methylation status. We need an equal commitment to publicize and act on, rather than quash, FDA Safety Communications when the balance of evidence shows risk of health impacts of approved devices for susceptible subpopulations. See and

When it comes to data, we must be comprehensive. EHRs without dental data is a leaky ship with a hole in the hull that will not reach port safely. Genetics and environmental exposure data without medical and dental device data is missing the most intensive exposures the body receives 24/7/365. As anyone with pets knows, teeth are God’s plan for mortality. Until we fully integrate dental into healthcare, insurance, records and big data, they are man’s plan for morbidity, and higher health care costs.

So please, let us fix this now so all Americans — whatever their genetics which are our most fundamental determinant of identity and of health — can sail ahead to a brighter, healthier, and more productive future.


Here is a modest proposal for Medical and Dental Device Safety and Urgent Reform (MEDDSURGE). Contact me with any questions or suggestions.

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