VA Partners with IBM’s Watson for Genomics

IBM’s Watson for Genomics and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) just announced a public-private research partnership to study genomics and provide tailored medical solutions to patients. This partnership is poised to expand the benefits of precision medicine to 10,000 American veterans with cancer over the next two years.

Genomics is subset of genetics dedicated to sequencing and analyzing the complete DNA content of a single cell, including each of its constituent genes. One of the goals of this approach is to better understand how both diseases and medicines are affected by a unique genomic sequence.  This understanding can be leveraged into tailored medical treatments determined by a patient’s DNA.

Advances in DNA sequencing technology means that the availability of data for conducting genomics research is at an all-time high.  However, without a way to process that data efficiently and analyze it relative to actual diseases, available drugs, and the most current research, practical progress toward clinical benefit may be challenging.  At large medical institutions such as the VA, the sheer volume of data produced could be overwhelming to researchers and caregivers.

The partnership between IBM’s Watson for Genomics and the VA aims to overcome these obstacles in the field of oncology.  According to the press release, researchers at the VA will feed genomic data into Watson and Watson will generate a report that “identifies the likely cancer-causing mutations and possible treatment options to target those specific mutations through a comprehensive review of existing medical literature.”  This approach will make critical information available to healthcare providers and help them create tailored medical treatments that target specific cancer-causing genetic mutations.

According to Dr. David J. Shulkin, Department of Veterans Affairs Under Secretary for Health, “[w]ith the help of Watson’s cognitive computing power, VA plans to bring precision treatment options to almost 30 times more patients than could be previously served.”


Mark Davis
Mark Davis is an associate in our Orange County office. His practice is focused on patent litigation and prosecution. Mr. Davis earned his Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering at Brigham Young University, where he competed in the international University Rover Challenge. After graduation, he worked as a regulatory compliance engineer at Novarad, a small medical device company. Following his work as an engineer, Mr. Davis attended the University of Texas School of Law. At Texas, he was an officer in the Texas IP Law Society and served as an associate editor of the Texas Law Review. He also represented small business owners and nonprofit groups as a member of the Texas Clinical Law Programs. He joined the firm in 2015.
Click here to read full bio
View all posts published by Mark Davis »

Leave a Reply

By using this blog, you agree and understand that no information is being provided in the context of any attorney-client relationship. You further agree and understand that nothing herein is intended to be legal advice. This blog is solely informational in nature, and is not intended as, and should not be used as, a substitute for competent legal advice from a retained and licensed attorney in your state. Knobbe Martens LLP makes no representations or warranties as to the accuracy, completeness, timeliness or availability of the information in this blog. Knobbe Martens LLP will not be liable for any injury or damages relating to your use of, or access to, any such information. Knobbe Martens LLP undertakes no obligation to correct or update information on this blog, which may be incorrect or become incorrect or out of date over time. Knobbe Martens LLP reserves the right to alter or delete content or information on the blog at any time. This blog contains links and references to other websites and publications that you may find of interest. Knobbe Martens LLP does not control, promote, endorse or otherwise have any affiliation with any other websites or publications unless those websites or publications expressly state such an affiliation. Knobbe Martens LLP further has no responsibility for, and makes no representations regarding, the content, accuracy or any other aspect of the information in such websites or publications.