Sumit Jamuar is the Global Indian Co-Founder, Chairman and CEO of Global Gene Corp, which recently bagged the prestigious Roddenberry Prize 2020, designed to advance the vision of popular sci-fi series 'Star Trek' creator Gene Roddenberry of a better and fairer world. The genomics biotech company, which is headquartered in Mumbai and Cambridge, was recognised for helping the world overcome the bias that 80 per cent of all existing genomic data come from people of European ancestry.
In this interview, Jamuar explains what made Global Gene Corp stand out and the company's plans to use medtech platforms to advance health outcomes for people around the world.
What are some of the steps taken by Global Gene Corp to address the Covid-19 challenge?
When the Covid-19 pandemic was in nascent stages earlier this year, it was a call to arms to use our expertise, resources, and networks to contribute to addressing this enormous challenge, the shape of which is still being defined. What was very clear to us was that genomics and technology will play a key role, from prevention to developing a vaccine and treatment regimes.
To deliver our mission, Global Gene Corp has built technology platforms to enable large scale studies on human health and well-being, facilitating creation of Electronic Health Records, Genomic data repositories and analytics, Biobanking, Digital Health apps and accelerating Therapeutic discovery.
In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, we have extended our platform to include multilingual end-to-end Contact Tracing, Individual Risk Evaluation & Mobility Passports, which helps generate insights on the pandemic, and provide complete technology platform solutions for clinical management as well as research.
What does this Prize mean and how do you intend to utilise the prize money?
At Global Gene Corp, we are truly humbled to receive the Roddenberry Foundation Prize for 2020. Growing up in India as a 'Star Trek' fan, Gene Roddenberry inspired us with his vision of a future where technology is a force for incredible positive impact on humanity.
This recognition of our work to create an equitable and fair world where all of us, irrespective of where we live, can benefit by leapfrogging to the healthcare of the future enabled by genomics, digital health and creating the next generation of therapeutics is a truly remarkable moment in our journey to create lasting transformation.
The prize money will be utilised to contribute to further our research and development so that we can benefit society at large.
Do you think Global Gene Corp work will also help address the ethnic disparity noted in the impact of coronavirus?
Yes. Global Gene Corp was created to democratise healthcare through genomics by mapping and organising the world's genomic diversity to deliver personalized health and longevity benefits for everyone, everywhere. We believe our work will have a definite impact on addressing such inequalities.
Genetic makeup affects all aspects of health - from the risk of disease to how quickly the body breaks down drugs - and this information is increasingly being used as the basis for new tests and treatments, but there is an underlying bias in the global genomic dataset, with almost 80 per cent of the genomic dataset from people of European ancestry. This means that understanding of genetics of many of the world's population with ancestry from Asia, Africa and Latin America is under-represented and we have to build necessary insights into the populations and diseases.
What are some of Global Gene Corp's future plans, Covid-19 and beyond?
Our plans are:
* to continue execution of our strategic priority to map and organise the world's genomic diversity;
* ongoing research with focus on how we can solve for diseases using the insights from genetics to create the next generation of therapeutics;
* and working with esteemed partners in the ecosystem to deliver the healthcare of the future for everyone, everywhere.
As a Global Indian, how do you see the UK-India healthcare partnership progressing?
When I had the honour of interacting with Indian PM Narendra Modi on our work in genomics at the Science Museum during his visit to the UK, I was inspired by his vision and passion.
With presence in India and the UK, Global Gene Corp believes the UK-India healthcare partnership is critical to creating the globally leading genomics organisation to impact health for billions. The UK is a leader in genomics and healthcare capabilities globally, combined with India - her potential, talent pool, healthcare industry and economic prowess - makes for a compelling partnership.
by Aditi Khanna