Wayne Carter, president and CEO of the Kansas City Area Life Sciences Institute, loves technology. His phone is constantly buzzing with updates and tweets, he wears a Fitbit 24/7 and he tests pioneering healthcare apps. He said these apps will change the way medicine is practiced in America.
“It’s putting healthcare and the ability to measure health endpoints in the hand of the consumer, where medicine has been, in the past, almost exclusively in the hands of the physician,” he said.
Carter pointed specifically to an app that conducts an EKG test using two electrodes attached to the back of an iPhone. He said patients with heart problems could monitor their hearts on a daily basis; a doctor could then review the information collected by the app, which would provide a more complete picture of the patients’ health than just a single test in a doctor’s office.
Fostering the growth of technologies like mobile health apps is only one of the goals of the Kansas City Area Life Sciences Institute. Carter said his main goal as head of the institute is to encourage collaboration among the stakeholding institutions. These include University of Kansas, University of Missouri and local hospitals, like Children’s Mercy and Saint Luke’s. Collaboration of the stakeholders is crucial to life science advancement, Carter said.
“When you put the entire group together, we can actually compete with anybody globally in a bioinformatics space,” he said.
Bioinformatics is a broad field, where mathematics, engineering and computer science are used to store, analyze and organize scientific data. Bioinformatic advancements will be crucial to following the federal mandate concerning electronic medical records, Carter said.
While human health makes up 75 percent of the institute’s life sciences work, the remainder of its advocacy focuses on animal health, like with the Kansas City Animal Health Corridor, and plant sciences.
“You see that the Animal Health Corridor, as significant as it is …, it’s actually very significantly overshadowed, if you will, by human health,” he said.
Regardless of the institute’s focus on human health, animal health still plays a significant part. The Animal Health Research Symposium is held every year in partnership with the colleges of veterinary medicine at the Universities of Kansas and Missouri and the Kansas City Convention for Veterinary Medicine. The topic for this year is antibiotic resistance. Carter said this topic will interest veterinarians, human physicians, feedlot producers and ethicists. He said Human physicians may be interested because of the effects antibiotics administered to food animals may have on consumers. The question “are we using antibiotics judiciously?” will be widely discussed at the symposium, Carter said.