Kenneth Davis, MD, President and CEO of The Mount Sinai Medical Center, Spoke on the Future of Medicine at the Aspen Ideas Festival Preview in New York City

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Mount Sinai Will Be the First Medical Center Sponsor of the Aspen Ideas Festival

This month marks the 10th anniversary of the sequencing of the human genome and every day, biomedical scientists are working to usher in a new era of genomic medicine based on the insights we now have, said Kenneth L. Davis, MD, President and Chief Executive Officer of The Mount Sinai Medical Center, at a recent Aspen Ideas Festival event in New York City.

“Biomedical researchers are identifying more and more ways to boost the immune system to defeat disease,” Dr. Davis explained to the audience of 75 invited guests. “They are learning how your genome interacts with environmental and other factors, and how to create personalized immunotherapies based on an individual’s genome.”

This research has already seen breakthroughs in cancer treatment, where investigators are analyzing genomic factors to understand why the body does not destroy cancer tumors the way it does other invasive health threats, he said. “Immunobiolgists are also looking at the reverse: why the body sometimes reacts to things that it shouldn’t, such as peanuts with peanut allergies,” he explained. In 10 year’s time, the cost of sequencing an individual’s genome will come down from about $2,000 to $20, he said. This will help doctors give all patients optimal treatments and health guidance.

Dr. Davis spoke on “The Future of Medicine” at an Aspen Ideas Festival preview on Tuesday, April 16, at The Studio Museum in Harlem. Corby Kummer, Senior Editor of The Atlantic interviewed Dr. Davis for 20 minutes before inviting questions from the audience. Topics ranged from cancer biology and immunotherapy, to the future of psychiatry—Dr. Davis’s medical specialty—and the direction of medical education. Dr. Davis and Mr. Kummer also discussed the role of advance directives in lowering health care spending in the last six months of life. The event also featured Thelma Golden, Director and Chief Curator of The Studio Museum, who was interviewed by the actor and writer Anna Deveare Smith.

Mount Sinai is the first medical center to sponsor the Aspen Ideas Festival, which will be held June 26 to July 2 in Aspen, Colo. “Mount Sinai is innovating models in coordinated patient care, advancing research on the most debilitating diseases, and educating tomorrow’s physicians to be leaders in the new health care reform environment,” said Dr. Davis. “We are excited to be a part of the Aspen Ideas Festival where great ideas are advanced.”

Walter Isaacson, President and CEO of the Aspen Institute thanked Dr. Davis and Mount Sinai for their support. “We are thrilled to have Mount Sinai join us this summer as we explore the latest research on disease and innovations in preventive care,” he said. “Mount Sinai's work is renowned, and its researchers and clinicians will add a welcome perspective to our sessions on health, which will have a special focus on maximizing individual health and longevity.”

Now in its ninth year, the Aspen Ideas Festival 2013 will gather interesting thinkers and leaders from the United States and around the world to discuss their work, the issues that inspire them, and their ideas. Presented by the Aspen Institute and The Atlantic, the Festival is unique in its dedication to dialogue and exchange, and in its commitment to bringing ideas to the public at large.

At the Festival Preview in New York City—the first ever held—Dr. Davis also discussed how the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai has restructured its curriculum and developed new courses to place a greater emphasis on coordination of care. Clinical training at Mount Sinai also begins for students on day one, he said, which is earlier than at many schools. Students also work in groups in order to reinforce the notion of team-based care. "The emphasis is no longer on the best medical student. It is on the best team of medical students—the one whose group receives the best grade." For a transcript of his remarks, click here.

During the Festival this summer, Dr. Davis will speak more in-depth about “The Future of Medicine” and will present ideas on “Bending the Health Care Cost Curve” with Peter Orszag, PhD, former Director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Barack Obama. Drs. Davis and Orszag have written a white paper on ways to reduce health care costs to make Medicare more affordable for the country.

To demystify personal genomics, Mount Sinai will offer Festival participants informational sessions with Joel Dudley, PhD, Director of Biomedical Informatics at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and co-author of the new textbook, Exploring Personal Genomics (Oxford University Press, March 2013). Icahn School of Medicine was the first medical school in the United States to offer a course in which students work with their own full genome data. Dr. Dudley had his own genome sequenced and will discuss his experience at the Festival. “I’ve been diagnosed with Crohn’s disease and Tourette’s/OCD/AHDH,” Dr. Dudley said. “I was hoping my genome could shed light on a possible genetic basis for either. In a way, I’m lucky my genome is broken so I have all these great personal anecdotes to share.”

Also at the Festival, a team of Mount Sinai dermatologists will be on-site to provide melanoma screenings from 8 am to 4 pm daily in the Hines Room of the Kresge Building at the Aspen Meadows.

About The Mount Sinai Medical Center
The Mount Sinai Medical Center encompasses both The Mount Sinai Hospital and Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Established in 1968, the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai is one of the leading medical schools in the United States. The Icahn School of Medicine is noted for innovation in education, biomedical research, clinical care delivery, and local and global community service. It has more than 3,400 faculty members in 32 departments and 14 research institutes, and ranks among the top 20 medical schools both in National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding and by U.S. News & World Report.

The Mount Sinai Hospital, founded in 1852, is a 1,171-bed tertiary- and quaternary-care teaching facility and one of the nation’s oldest, largest and most-respected voluntary hospitals. In 2012, U.S. News & World Report ranked The Mount Sinai Hospital 14th on its elite Honor Roll of the nation’s top hospitals based on reputation, safety, and other patient-care factors. Mount Sinai is one of just 12 integrated academic medical centers whose medical school ranks among the top 20 in NIH funding and by U.S. News & World Report and whose hospital is on the U.S. News & World Report Honor Roll. Nearly 60,000 people were treated at Mount Sinai as inpatients last year, and approximately 560,000 outpatient visits took place.

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