40 ideas: Time to supercharge our bioinformatics efforts

The last decade has shown significant growth for biotechnology companies in the Midwest. However, Indiana bioinformatics growth has been a bit stagnant, a surprising trend given that Indiana hosts headquarters and offices for biotech leaders—including Eli Lilly and Co., Roche, Cook Medical, Cook BioTech and Boston Scientific—that understand the importance of data science. Given that Indiana has garnered well-deserved attention for its growth of innovative technology companies in broader terms, our state is an attractive location to grow bioinformatics companies that deliver insights based on health data.

We live in a state where—as of 2020—the total economic impact of our life sciences industry is $77 billion, nearly 400% larger than the general technology sector. Additionally, with 86 higher education institutions, we have a unique and promising opportunity to develop and recruit the talent required to fuel explosive innovation and growth.

An incredible 90% of the world’s data has been generated in the past two years, and this growth is increasing at a relatively predictable rate. Additionally, in 2009, as part of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act, the federal government allocated $27 billion to subsidize the adoption of electronic health records systems by hospitals. Billions more were allocated to help train health information technology workers and assist hospitals and providers in setting up electronic systems that would enable the health data historically sequestered in paper files to be shared among providers and used to improve health care quality.

Within this data are hidden stories and risk factors that can be uncovered to save lives, save money, and create a preventive health care system. Now is the time to bring together our biotech, software development and data science resources to organize and mine the insights from this data. What’s at stake is both the health and well-being of our community and the economic prosperity of our workforce.

The top 10 U.S. biotech hubs today share five common traits that enabled those regions to flourish: access to a robust talent pool, venture capital, federal funding, land space for new laboratories and consistent innovation evidenced by new patent registrations and access to leading health care systems.

Indiana possesses all of these qualities and is well positioned to become a global hub for biosciences, including bioinformatics and precision health. The available talent, academic research centers, presence of biotech companies, and the opportunity for collaborative innovation will unlock incredible breakthroughs with the appropriate amount of focus and investment.

While Indiana has lagged in access to venture capital, investors are increasingly partnering with Midwestern technology companies due to our thriving high-tech ecosystem, low cost of living, and top-tier economic policies, providing all the tools necessary to be an engine for breakthrough innovation in the field of bioinformatics. Given that the global health care analytics market will exceed $40 billion by 2025, there is plenty of upside for investment in data-driven strategies focused on improving health care.

Indiana has a handful of emerging bioinformatics success stories, including Don Brown’s LifeOmic and Hc1, where I am CEO, but we are only scratching the surface of this burgeoning opportunity. While the electronic health record is a component of what is required, the true value will be delivered only by unifying the many data silos to construct a comprehensive view of the patient, resulting in a tailored approach to managing their care.

The power of the data will come into focus through a new generation of Precision Health Insight Networks, designed to automatically organize and analyze vast quantities of data to uncover the areas where action can be taken to improve the health of our communities. We are off to an encouraging start, and with an adequate allocation of resources, bioinformatics can become the next major growth engine for Indiana.•

Please enable JavaScript to view this content.

Editor's note: You can comment on IBJ stories by signing in to your IBJ account. If you have not registered, please sign up for a free account now. Please note our updated comment policy that will govern how comments are moderated.

40 Ideas

{{ articles_remaining }}
Free {{ article_text }} Remaining
{{ articles_remaining }}
Free {{ article_text }} Remaining Article limit resets on
{{ count_down }}