more people were willing to share their health data on mobile devices,
scientists could organize the gaggle of information into shared
databases and perhaps bring about the next era of medical breakthroughs,
researchers said in a social change film.
The curation and analysis of terabytes of health data may enable David
B. Agus, a professor of medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC,
to tell his patients that hope exists.
“The new hope in the room is not in medicine, but it’s in big data,”
Agus, director of the Lawrence J. Ellison Institute for Transformative
Medicine of USC, said in the film. “The real revelation in data is we
can start to categorize cancer. So instead of just lumping it by where
it came from, we’re going to start to personalize how we understand, how
we categorize and how we treat disease.
“Two or three times I week, I look someone in the eye and say I have no
more drugs to treat your disease, and I don’t want to do that anymore.”
Big Data: Biomedicine is a 22-minute film that aims to raise public
awareness about how big data is having an effect on the future of
medicine. The film illustrates how data is fast becoming a crucial
component in treating patients and saving lives.
The film, available on YouTube, was written and produced by Michael
Taylor, a professor at the USC School of Cinematic Arts and executive
director of the Media Institute for Social Change.
“Almost all of us today have computers in our pockets,” Taylor said. “If
we can get into the habit of using them to collect our personal health
data, it will get us much closer to having a more personalized
relationship with our doctor and ultimately benefit all of us.”
The second half of the two-part film will be posted on YouTube in the
spring, Taylor said.
USC Stevens Neuroimaging and Informatics Institute is the world’s
largest brain data repository, currently holding 2,867 terabytes of
information from every continent except Antarctica.
“We can’t modify one’s age; we can’t modify one’s genetics,” Judy Pa, an
assistant professor of neurology at the USC Stevens Neuroimaging
Informatics Institute, said in the film. “But we know that there are
other factors about the way one lives that can be changed. Let’s see if
we can get these on a better trajectory for your future.”
Recommendations of healthy and unhealthy behaviors are made based on the
available science at the time. Big data injects loads of new information
into the system, potentially blowing up scientists’ previous
misconceptions, said John Van Horn, an associate professor of neurology
at the Keck School of Medicine.
“This is where new science gets done,” Van Horn said in the film,
referring to the USC Stevens Neuroimaging and Informatics Institute.
“This is where cures will be found.”