Today, we face threats from global pandemics, a rapid decline in our quality of life due to chronic and acute diseases, poor health due to water quality issues, an over-reliance on fossil fuels as our primary energy source, and the tragedies resulting from natural disaster and human conflict. We need effective and economical solutions to all of these pressing threats.
Biomedicine & health outcomes, sustainability and security – these are the three major challenges in which Biodesign is working to make a difference. By harnessing the natural design rules of the very biology that is life on this planet, and by translating solutions from one area into another, we are finding new pathways to address these complex challenges.
Biomedicine & health outcomes
First, the healthcare system of the 21st century, whatever form it takes, will need to be financially sustainable and improve patient outcomes. Biodesign is pioneering the policies and economic analyses that would drive the adoption of new technologies for optimal healthcare delivery. On the technology front, by monitoring a person’s health through biosignatures, it is possible to gauge the disease risks he or she might be facing. This will allow us to match an appropriate treatment to those identified risks. Biodesign is searching for ways to detect and predict chronic diseases like cancer, even before symptoms appear.
Another aspect of our healthcare challenge is addressing the global threat of infectious diseases. New variations of these diseases affect millions of lives every year. Our search is for techniques to immediately develop new vaccines when a disease strain is identified. Furthermore, we can develop vaccines that significantly improve the health of newborns and children living in parts of the world without sophisticated healthcare systems.
Second, we are employing the same biological techniques used in healthcare to solve some of the world’s challenges in sustainability. By improving the effectiveness of producing fuels and chemicals from biological feedstocks and developing economical ways to reuse materials, we will enhance both the health of our planet and human health.
Third, we are developing new ways to protect people in harm’s way, either from natural disasters or human conflict. Again, the very tools for improving human health are appropriate for sensing chemical and biological weapons, or treating people exposed to disasters.
These three challenges make up Biodesign’s 21st century agenda and drive our research priorities.