Joshua Harris, co-founder of Apollo Global Management, and his wife, Marjorie, made a $5 million gift to establish the Harris Center for Precision Wellness at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. The center, reportedly the first-of-its-kind at a major U.S. academic medical institution, is part of the Icahn Institute for Genomics and Multiscale Biology. It will develop innovative approaches to health monitoring and wellness management by integrating emerging technologies in digital health, data science, and genomics to enable people’s health to be treated in precise, highly individualized ways. The Center will provide a focus for a network of precision wellness research programs closely tied to clinical initiatives across the Mount Sinai Health System, according to Mount Sinai officials.
“I am honored to establish this new center to support groundbreaking research and innovation at the frontier of health and wellness,” Harris said. “It is an extraordinary opportunity to make a real difference in people’s lives. While access to powerful new digital and molecular tools to track and inform healthcare is growing, a science-driven approach is needed to integrate these new technologies into tools and applications that people can trust and use with confidence.”
“A number of research initiatives already underway at the Icahn Institute are focused on driving a greater understanding of health and wellness,” added Eric Schadt, Ph.D., the Jean C. and James W. Crystal Professor of Genomics at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, and founding director of the Icahn Institute for Genomics and Multiscale Biology. “The new Harris Center will accelerate this momentum toward developing novel tools and approaches enabling precision wellness.”
The Harris Center’s immediate efforts will focus on digital health, molecular profiling, and data science. The Center is evaluating wearable devices to see how reliably they can measure activity, stress, sleep, cognitive functioning, mood, and environmental exposures and using sequencing technology to bring DNA, microbiome, and immune system profiles into predictive models of wellness.
In addition, the Center is preparing to apply advanced analytics and machine learning to the wealth of individualized metrics to produce actionable, data-driven insights into key aspects of wellness, and to help lead the way to a nextgen healthcare that is scalable.
The Harris Center will be directed by Joel Dudley, Ph.D., a genomics and bioinformatics expert at the Icahn Institute, and by Gregory Stock, Ph.D., a life-science entrepreneur and technology-innovation expert recruited to serve as the Center’s co-director.
Dr. Dudley, known for his work in genomic medicine and translational bioinformatics, was recognized by Fast Company in 2014 as one of the world’s 100-most-creative people.
“We are deeply grateful to Mr. Harris for his generosity, vision, and passion,” said Dr. Dudley. “His gift will help realize the promise we see in new digital health technologies such as wearable sensors and mobile applications. By drawing upon the core competencies in genomics, multiscale biology, bioinformatics, data science, population health, and clinical trial design at the Icahn Institute, the Harris Center initiatives will further enhance Mount Sinai’s reputation as one of the world's premier innovators in personalized healthcare. It is exciting to have an opportunity to integrate and apply these emerging technologies in a meaningful and scientific way in the pursuit of optimal wellness, vitality, and preventive care.”
Prior to joining Mount Sinai, the Center’s co-director, Dr. Gregory Stock, was an influential voice at UCLA in national policy debates about the implications of emerging life-science technology. He recently led an industry effort to assay individualized genetic vulnerability to neurobehavioral deficits from chronic low-level exposure to mercury and other environmental toxins.
“It’s a real privilege to help catalyze the shift to predictive, proactive healthcare,” said Dr. Stock, a Research Professor in the Department of Genetics and Genomic Science. “To realize the promise of nextgen digital healthcare now, a focused effort is essential. The timing for the center is perfect: key enabling technologies are arising on a broad front, and a shift to more precise and personalized approaches to wellness is taking shape. Wellness is much more than the absence of disease, and a big-data approach combining information from wearables, lab work-ups and omic panels to better characterize it should be very fruitful in enhancing our health.”