While there are a few personalized diagnostics available, such as home pregnancy tests, it is remarkable that our ability to monitor and maintain our health still largely relies on interacting with the medical community. This dependence is especially unfortunate in resource-poor settings, where the medical community is already stretched thin. Advances in the somewhat arcane field of nucleic acid computation may provide a means of more readily detecting pathogens and of understanding your own unique physiology. Such advances in personalized diagnostics are abetted by the possibilities inherent in crowd-sourcing information and analysis and in beginning to create virtual clinical trials (or their equivalent) through social networks.
Dr. Ellington is the Fraser Professor of Biochemistry in the Center for Systems and Synthetic Biology. He works primarily in the area of biotechnology: making useful products based on living systems. Amongst his contributions are nucleic acids that can act like antibodies, methods for understanding the immune status of individuals, new operating systems for organisms, and of course personalized diagnostics. He is a fierce advocate of the use of research in teaching, and of encouraging students to find their dreams while still benefiting the economy (sometimes called entrepreneurship).
UT Game Changers brings The University of Texas at Austin’s intellectual talent beyond the classroom with an hour-long show to be broadcast on The Longhorn Network along with a Web-only version, above.