As the Precision Medicine Initiative (PMI) continues its work to revolutionize how to improve health and treat disease, Cloudera has announced it will be donating its technologies to researchers and has pledged to train 1,000 of them in the latest big data technologies and data science techniques.

The initiative, announced at President Obama’s 2015 State of the Union address, hopes to enable a new era of medicine in which researchers, providers, and patients work together to develop individualized care through advances in research, technology, and policies.

In a recent interview, Mike Olson, chief strategy officer for Cloudera, was optimistic that the initiative will take patient care to the next level, saying, “The goal of the program is to apply new technologies to deliver better targeted care to patients.…I’m absolutely confident that that will happen. The broad result is going to be a much healthier population: Chronic and acute diseases that today are grave will be routinely curable. People will live longer with better quality of life. We will save money over current approaches because we’ll deliver more effective care and have fewer readmits and reinfections.”

The initiative has come back into the spotlight recently after announcing funding for regional medical center health care providers to become partners with the PMI Cohort Program.  The cohort program relies on partner organizations to provide the patient data necessary for their research on factors contributing to individual health and disease. The addition of regional medical center health care providers will give the cohort key data points on specific pathologies or patient populations.

Olson sees these regional medical centers as critical to giving the cohort program the juice it needs to complete its mission, saying, “The various regional medical centers tend to specialize to some degree in the research that they do. We’d like to see as broad participation as possible by those centers…the more broadly we can engage the research community, the more avenues we’ll have for progress. And, of course, discoveries in one specialty often generate new ideas in others, so progress anywhere can translate into progress broadly.”

Cloudera plans to contribute to the initiative’s success by donating licenses to their big data platform and pledging to train 1,000 individuals in the use of those technologies. The company brings prior experience working with many players in the health care space, including providers, payers, intermediaries, medical device manufacturers, pharmaceutical companies, research institutions, and more.

Cloudera also is collaborating with institutions to create new technologies to further the initiative.  One such example is a partnership with Intel and the Broad Institute leading to the Genomics Analysis Toolkit, an open source software platform that does DNA and genomic analyses.

Olson outlined the two-part advantage for Cloudera in its partnership with the PMI, noting, “Commercially, we’re convinced this is a smart thing to do. Big data will be a big deal in health care…encouraging innovation and solutions on top of our platform will be a long-term revenue driver for us. Socially, we’re in the fortunate position of being able to contribute, and we have an obligation to do so…we can make lives better for real people by unlocking the value of their health care data, in collaboration with our partners. It would be a shame to ignore that opportunity.”

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