What can we do as a community to improve the world of cancer survivors, to create more survivors, and to improve the biosciences with information science? asks Marc Benioff, Salesforce founder and CEO at Dreamforce 2015 in San Francisco.
Benioff graciously salutes his mother, a cancer survivor, and gives Salesforce’s answer: The Wisdom Study, a collaboration with the University of California, San Francisco, (UCSF) and the Athena breast health network, to test new cancer screening methods.
Dr. Laura Esserman, M.D., M.B.A, Professor, Departments of Surgery and Radiology, and Affiliate Faculty, Institute for Health Policy Studies, UCSF; Director, Carol Franc Buck Breast Care Center; and Co-Leader, Breast Oncology Program, UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center, joins Benioff on the stage. Dr. Esserman sees targeting therapy to the right people as requiring the same tools as targeting sales to customers, telling Benioff: “I saw the vision you had, and I said this is what I want.”
Precision medicine: targeted individualized treatments
According to Dr. Esserman, cancer is not one disease, but many diseases, with every patient needing individualized treatments. She envisions a blend of technology and medicine, a “moneyball for medicine” where the same depth of data could be available for cancer research as for picking fantasy sports teams. “Salesforce is helping us do this,” she says.
Salesforce, UCSF, and the Athena breast health network are working together to investigate whether a risk-based approach to breast cancer screening is as safe and effective as annual mammograms. The goal for the current trial is to have 110,000 people completing a data survey and receiving a personalized risk profile. In the past, conducting a study with this many participants would have been unthinkable, but with the Salesforce team behind them, Dr. Esserman believes it will be accomplished in just six months.
“Share data, share your wisdom”
“Everyone has to play a new role, and be willing to do things differently,” according to Dr. Esserman, who points to both healthcare providers and patients as needing to take responsibility for changing the way people view healthcare research and treatments. She encourages everyone to participate: “It’s only by everyone working together that we’re going to have a different future. I’m confident with your backing, we can change the world.”