Professor Dr. Alain van Gool
Title of Presentation
Biomarkers in Personalized Health(care): time for quality, not quantity
Date and Place
Session: Plenary P1 / Sep 13th – talk in main topic Biomarkers
Alain van Gool is professor Personalized Healthcare at the Radboudumc and applied biomarker scientist at TNO, with a strong passion in the application of biomarkers in translational medicine and personalized healthcare.
His professional background since 1991 is a mix of academia, pharmaceutical industry, applied research institutes, university medical centers. He has been leading technology-based biomarker laboratories, cross-functional expert teams, therapeutic project teams and public-private consortia, many of which were focused on the discovery, development and implementation of translational biomarkers in a variety of therapeutic areas. While working in Europe, USA and Asia, he and his teams contributed to over 200 projects in various phases of biomarker R&D. His technical expertise resides most strongly in molecular profiling (various Omics approaches), analytical biomarker development, and applications in translational scientific research.
Alain is a strong believer of open innovation networks and in his roles he has been collaborating with pharmaceutical, biotechnological, nutriceutical and diagnostic industries, SMEs, biobanks, clinicians, technology providers and information specialists to accelerate applied scientific research through public-private partnerships. With that background, he is currently also coordinating the Radboudumc Technology Centers, is Scientific lead Technologies of DTL (the Dutch Techcenter for Life Sciences) and is leading the Biomarker Platform of EATRIS (the European infrastructure for Translational Medicine), thus contributing to the organisation and coordination of local, national and European technology infrastructures.
Complementing his daily work, he enjoys contributing to several scientific advisory boards of start-up entrepreneurs, multinational companies, diagnostic organisations and conference organisers, and is part of several editorial boards of scientific journals.
Exponential developments in diagnostic technologies and of high precision medicines that interfere with selected disease mechanisms have enabled personalized medicine: the right drug to the right patient at the right dose at the right time. We are, however, rediscovering that human physiology is a highly complex system and targeted drugs may not be sufficient to properly restore system disturbances, necessitating the need for system medicine and challenging the concept of targeted precision medicines. In parallel, patients have become increasingly informed and participatory, wanting and empowered to take charge of their own health plan. Therapies are no longer limited to pharmaceutics but alternatives as lifestyle changes, nutrition, alternative therapies and combinations thereof, are proactively selected by well-informed people rather than those following doctor’s orders. Personalized health(care) is a umbrella ambition that covers a wide variety of disciplines whose collaboration is imperative to bring optimal benefit to people including patients. Within this ambition, it is key to translate interdisciplinary molecular research to knowledge and understanding and to actionable decisions for people to maintain and/or improve their health. Biomarkers have been key tools to drive and enable personalized healthcare. However, the disbalance between the enormous volume of biomarker discovery and the still limited diagnostic applications is growing, causing a biomarker innovation gap that is widening. Awareness and community building is the most promising path forward and several ongoing initiatives will be presented including those driven by national and European technology infrastructures.