Dear Doctor: Florence Comite
The precision medicine doctor optimizing individual health through data.
Dr. Florence Comite was born an identical twin…except for the fact that she wasn’t. Keenly aware of her individuality — unique from her twin sister, despite sharing the same DNA blueprint — Dr. Comite went on to pursue a lifelong passion for medicine and science in hot pursuit of a data-based approach to quantify and optimize individual healthy longevity. From Yale to the National Institutes of Health, and now at the Center for Precision Medicine in Manhattan, Dr. Comite practices a unique approach to personalized health care, one that goes beyond genomics. It’s this revolutionary approach to medicine that Dr. Comite plans to scale globally, via her startup QUANTIOME.
“As an identical twin, I’ve always been fascinated by genomics. I know that I’m not exactly the same as my sister. In fact, growing up, she was great in languages and writing, while math and science were my strengths. I felt that our skill sets were divided. I was so curious about why we were so different. I knew there was so much more to me than just the genome.”
As I got started in medicine, I was always interested in what made the body work. It was intriguing to me that you could look at the entire body and see how it communicates. Endocrinology is considered the messenger system where your brain relates to your thyroid, your pancreas, and a number of different organs that control function. During my time at Yale, I was fortunate enough to do a lot of endocrinology research, looking at life from fertility to pediatrics to growth and development to how disorders of aging evolve. I realized that when you age into your thirties you begin to decline; father time starts ticking away what mother nature gives us naturally in our twenties.
I had an epiphany that if we peered beneath the surface of data, we could see the beginning of the disorders of aging well before someone feels ill.
So I started collecting data longitudinally on people, and created my first practice in New Haven. We could see the changes in the blood work or biomarkers, whether it was in carbohydrates, lipids, hormones, metabolism, thyroid, or bone markers — and we could tell well before someone becomes prediabetic. This is precision medicine: it is the ability to improve someone’s health before they get sick. Through this system, you are reversing and preventing illness to put someone on the right health trajectory that could protect their health for life.
About the Comite Center for Precision Medicine
At my practice, the Comite Center for Precision Medicine, we collect data and investigate people from an N of 1 perspective, which means looking at each person individually. From my very classical training at Yale and the NIH, I realized that in evidence-based medicine, we are really looking at one size fits all in outcomes when we test medications and interventions. Those have to be tested in large groups of people in order to squash the differences. There’s a normal curve where we’re looking at the average, but we’re ignoring the plus/minus three deviations. These are the people that don’t look average, which is really all of us.
I started designing a way to look at each specific human and using them as their own control. We do this by integrating as much data as we can on an individual, including hormones, metabolism, medical records, personal and family history, lifestyle, functional test performance, body composition, genomics — even wearables data. By integrating this data, we get a precise understanding of an individual’s current health — and their health trajectory. In other words, we are able to detect and predict disease before symptoms; and from there we can reverse those trends with personalized interventions.
Medications and supplements are just one piece of the puzzle. Recommendations for diet, exercise, sleep, and apps all contribute to an individual’s health optimization program. EmSculpt, EmSella, VanquishMe, Exili, and Cellutone are some of the newer technologies that we employ at the Center in the context of a comprehensive program designed to optimize an individual’s metabolic and hormonal health. It’s this type of integrated and fully personalized approach that allows us to maximize total health from the inside-out.
By tracking this data longitudinally and repeating the blood tests and functional tests in an organized fashion, similar to a clinical trial, we are able to “course correct” an individual’s health at the cellular level by tweaking interventions best suited to their makeup.
We work with clients all over the world and conduct a lot of our analyses and client interactions remotely, via telemedicine. In practicing this approach with hundreds of individuals over my career, we have assembled a robust N-of-1 database that reveals patterns about how certain individuals respond to various interventions.
Our startup QUANTIOME is a digital app built on the intelligence of the Center’s database. While I partner with many high net worth individuals at our Center, my dream has always been to democratize access to precision medicine by scaling this kind of “high-touch” health care — which is necessarily expensive — as a “high-tech” low-cost product. QUANTIOME is that product!
I grew up in the world of the Jetsons (my favorite childhood TV show), thinking how great it would be to be able to go anywhere in the world and get the kind of answers and wisdom you need to live a life that’s full of joy and happiness. I’m looking forward to a point in time where there will be curated information that is easily available and at the point of actionability, just like in the Jetsons. That’s the QUANTIOME vision.
Piece of technology that has made my life easier…smartphones (easier and harder).
One thing I wish more people knew…how easy it would be to stay healthy if they just knew a little bit more about what it meant and what they needed to explore.
Top three tips for staying healthy: 1) track your sleep with a sleep app (my favorite is sleep cycle), 2) drink more water 3) add more veggies and fiber to every meal.
Podcast: Tim Ferris
Travel spot: Japan
Hobby: Boats, Waterskiing and Reading
You can learn more about Dr. Florence Comite here.
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