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Dean Kamen

Dean Kamen is an American scientist and inventor whose products include the Segway human transporter (HT) and the iBOT battery-powered wheelchair. His inventions include medical devices and futuristic gizmos that[…]

In our lifetime we’re going to start to see individual therapies customized for individual patients, and it’s going to change the way people get health care.

Question: How important will personalized medicine become in the future?

Dean Kamen: In some cases the medical technology is now allowing people to diagnose long before there are any symptoms. What might happen if we don’t intercede, or even if it’s going to happen, and we can’t intercede yet, how we can prepare for it.

A world in which you can get a therapy designed to improve your personal quality of life, it doesn’t have to be a pill that was tested against a broad-based of statistical people that are presumed to be somewhat similar to you, in which 30% were cured, and 30% were uncured, and 40% had terrible side effects, and you’re supposed to swallow this pill hoping you’re on the right 30%.

I think in our lifetime, that level of acceptance of “well, we couldn’t do any better,” won’t be tolerated. We’re going to start to see individual therapies customized for individual patients, and it’s going to change the way people get healthcare.

Conducted on: June 9, 2009.