uBiome Welcomes Big Data Visionary Dr. Atul Butte to Advisory Board

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uBiome, the leader in microbial genomics, has appointed Dr. Atul Butte, one of the world’s foremost experts in the applications of big data in life sciences, to its Scientific Advisory Board. Dr. Butte, Director of the Institute of Computational Health Sciences at UCSF, is a former Apple and Microsoft software engineer who went on to head the Division of Systems Medicine at Stanford University and also founded three venture-backed companies.


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uBiome, the leading microbial genomics company, has added world-renowned medical technology expert Dr. Atul Butte, MD, PhD to its Scientific Advisory Board. Dr. Butte is Director of the Institute of Computational Health Sciences at the University of California, San Francisco, and a world leader in applying the power of big data to health and medicine.

Dr. Butte worked in software engineering with Apple Inc. and Microsoft Corp., then spent ten years at Stanford University and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital, latterly as Chief of the Division of Systems Medicine and associate professor of pediatrics. Trained in both computer science and medicine at Brown University, Dr. Butte received his PhD in Health Sciences and Technology from Harvard Medical School and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is also a founder of several Bay Area biotech startup companies including: Personalis, providing clinical interpretation of whole genome sequences; Carmenta, discovering diagnostics for pregnancy complications; and NuMedii, finding new uses for drugs through open molecular data.

uBiome uses powerful high-throughput DNA sequencing technology to provide detailed analysis of the human microbiome, the term for the richly diverse quantity of bacteria which coexist in and on the human body. There are ten times as many microbial cells living in this ecosystem than there are in the entire human body. Many play a vital role in supporting life. Bacteria in the gut, for example, assist with digestion and the synthesis of vitamins. However pathogenic bacteria are associated with a range of conditions, some very serious, such as celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease - including both Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, esophageal reflux and esophageal cancer, Clostridium difficile infection, colorectal cancer, and many others.

Atul Butte keenly anticipates his new role with uBiome. He says, “Like just about every other aspect of 21st century life, the life sciences are generating vast amounts of data. In fact, genomics is well on its way to becoming one of the world’s biggest users of data storage. So you can see why it’s crucial that we know how to find meaning in such enormous amounts of information. uBiome’s progress in enabling citizen scientists to gain access to their personal microbiotal data has already led to fascinating findings. Imagine what happens when we pool all the data. These are truly exciting times.”

Dr. Butte’s research laboratory at UCSF builds and applies tools that convert more than 400 trillion points of molecular, clinical, and epidemiological data collected by researchers and clinicians over the past decade into diagnostics, therapeutics, and new insights into disease. In 2013, he was recognized by the US White House as an Open Science Champion of Change for promoting science through publicly available data. In April 2012 Butte delivered a TEDMED talk describing his lab's techniques of making new discoveries using massive amounts of publicly available biomedical research data.

Jessica Richman, co-founder and CEO of uBiome, says, “Having Dr. Butte join us as an advisor is an incredible honor. He’s a true visionary who deeply understands the contribution that big data is making in the life sciences. Exploring the human microbiome promises to unlock secrets which could lead to truly revolutionary new treatments for all kinds of diseases. It’s wonderful to have Dr. Butte with us on this journey.”

uBiome was launched in 2012 by scientists and technologists educated at Stanford and UCSF after a crowdfunding campaign raised over $350,000 from citizen scientists, around triple its initial goal. The company is now funded by Andreessen Horowitz, Y Combinator, and other leading investors.

uBiome’s mission is to use big data to understand the human microbiome by giving users the power to learn about their bodies, perform experiments, and see how current research studies apply to them.

Orli Kadoch

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