Tech Tonics: Merck’s Robert Plenge on Human Biology and Social Media

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For years, medical research seemed focused on understanding disease processes primarily through model organisms such as yeast, flies, and mice. Today’s guest, Merck’s Robert Plenge, offers the radical suggestion that with the help of emerging technology “humans serve as the best model organism for understanding human health and disease.”

As a physician-scientist, trained as a clinical rheumatologist and geneticist, Robert conducted research at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and served as an Associate Member of the Broad Institute, before joining Merck in 2013. Still based in Boston, he’s now Vice President and Head of Translational Medicine at Merck. He also writes a popular, personal blog related to translational medicine, and is active on twitter (@rplenge).

On today’s program we ask Robert how he’s managed to maintain an active social media presence while working for big pharma. We also discuss his transition from academic medicine to industry and, most importantly, learn how he’s applying his passion for “causal human biology” to turn data into drugs.

This episode of Tech Tonics is sponsored 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.

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Posted in: Audio Podcast, Healthcare, Tech Tonics