Tech Tonics: Atul Butte – When it Comes to Data, More is More

October 23rd, 2017 |
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An infectiously exuberant champion of science, sharing, and entrepreneurship, Atul Butte is the Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg Distinguished Professor at the UCSF School of Medicine. Among the questions we explore on this episode of Tech Tonics: can the irresistible force of Atul Butte overcome the immovable object of health data silos?

Atul was born on Long Island, and grew up in New Jersey; he describes his parents as very “technology-supportive,” and (after “borrowing” time on computers at department stores), his first computer was an Apple II plus, which he taught himself how to program. He attended Brown University for both college and medical school, studying computer science and discovering a knack for entrepreneurship, inspired by several unusually exciting summer internships, including Microsoft and Apple.

After continuing his training in pediatrics and pediatric endocrinology at Children’s Hospital in Boston and picking up a PhD in bioinformatics in the Health Sciences and Technology program at Harvard/MIT, where he was mentored by previous Tech Tonics guest Zak Kohane (episode here), he moved out west, and joined the faculty at Stanford, rapidly developing a name for himself as a biomedical leader extracting insights from very large, often public, datasets. When David was in graduate school, he learned from his mentor that “more is more”; Atul clearly takes this principle to the next level. In April 2015, Atul moved from Palo Alto up 280 to the city, to his current role at UCSF.

In this episode, we also discuss entrepreneurship as core part of translational mission (even/especially in academia), the tradeoffs between data quantity and quality (“democratizing data” vs Dennis Miller’s “two of crap of crap”), whether data is the new oil or the new soil, the good and bad of consumer rating of healthcare providers, and whether, paradoxically, people may get “numbered out” and increasingly rely on brand perception.

We are delighted to welcome Atul Butte to Tech Tonics!

This episode is brought to you by DNAnexus, the secure and compliant cloud platform that enables enterprise users to analyze, collaborate around, and integrate massive amounts of genetic and other health data.

Additional Links:

“Digital Health is Dead” post here.

Maker Faire: here.

Entrepreneurship as translational vehicle – David in Forbes here.

Need to train med students in entrepreneurship – David in Nature Biotechnology here, Forbes here, here.

Need for palpable application to drive (health) tech adoption – David in Forbes here.

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