On February 24 I attended a workshop in MIT on the Future of Health Analytics. The event was sponsored by MIT Connection Science, a recently organized research initiative aimed at leveraging data science to quantify and analyze human behaviors, and to leverage the new insights thus obtained in key societal applications, including healthcare, transportation and finance. Connection Science, - with which I’m affiliated as a Fellow, - was founded by Media Lab professor Alex “Sandy” Pentland. He’s the author of several books, including the recently published Social Physics: How Good Ideas Spread.
I’ve worked with Pentland for the past several years, and have previously written about his research on Reinventing Society in the Wake of Big Data, as well as his work with the World Economic Forum and others on the creation of trust frameworks for the sharing and protection of personal data. In his opening remarks at the workshop, Pentland talked about Big Data and Health. The little data breadcrumbs that we leave behind as we move around in the world can now be reality mined to help us better understand our behaviors and thus improve our lives and health. He discussed several applications of big data to health, based on research at his MIT Human Dynamics Lab, as well as startups he’s involved in.
Following Pentland, Dr. Dennis Ausiello talked about Quantitative Human Phenotyping and the opportunities it offers to transform the practice of medicine. Ausiello is professor of medicine at the Harvard Medical School, Chief Emeritus of Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), and director and co-founder of the Center for Assessment Technology and Continuous Health (CATCH), a joint MGH-MIT initiative aimed at finding new ways of measuring the human condition, i.e., phenotypes.