Ask the Experts: Predictions for 2019
E-CIGARETTES AND YOUTH
“The FDA is focused on regulation. The CDC is focused on surveillance. NIH and NIDA (National Institute on Drug Abuse) are focused on more research. But the reality is, we can’t solve this problem, this crisis, this epidemic from Washington, D.C. We need states who control a lot of the retail environment to look at the policies, the parents and teachers who see use on a day-to-day basis to become aware of these products and to understand the steps they can take to help us turn around this epidemic.”
— JEROME ADAMS, M.D.
U.S. Surgeon General
“Genomic technologies, like gene editing and low-cost DNA sequencing, will continue to transform the fields of human genetics and medicine. In the new year, we will see continued examples of clinical successes of gene therapy and gene editing in the treatment of somatic tissues or organs, especially in rare genetic diseases and cancer. In contrast, the scientific and ethical opposition to germline gene editing will raise society’s awareness to guard against rogue experiments while also supporting continued thoughtful debate on this topic.”
— BRENDAN LEE, M.D., PH.D.
Chair of Molecular and Human Genetics at Baylor College of Medicine
“We are at the forefront of incorporating immunotherapy into our treatment portfolio and have recently launched a broad range of cutting-edge clinical trials in many gynecological cancers. In addition, there will be an increasing focus on personalized treatments. Genetic testing for ovarian and endometrial cancer patients is key, as there are new drugs that are particularly effective in women with inherited mutations.”
— KAREN LU, M.D.
Professor and Chair in the Department of Gynecologic Oncology and Reproductive Medicine at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
“This is an exciting time in terms of both unprecedented vaccine access and the introduction of new vaccines. Unfortunately, opposing these exciting trends is a growing and ominous anti-vaccine movement, now well established in North America and Europe, but working its way into … Africa, Asia and Latin America. … The anti-vaccine movement successfully blocked vaccination programs for measles, influenza, and other childhood vaccines, as well as the introduction of new HPV vaccines for cervical cancer, so we must continue our efforts to debunk vaccine myths in the years to come.”
— PETER HOTEZ, M.D., PH.D.
Dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine and Director of the Texas Children’s Center for Vaccine Development
“Biologics are no longer new technologies. Both cell therapies and scaffold technology are now established as effective therapeutic tools. In 2019, multiple consortia comprised of industry, not-for-profit organizations and academia are actively engaged in, and committed to, solving the greatest needs to enable manufacturing of organs and tissues—illustrating that the field has come of age and is worth the investment.”
— DORIS TAYLOR, PH.D.
Director of Regenerative Medicine Research at Texas Heart Institute
“Operations performed in the abdomen, pelvis, chest, cardiovascular and neurological systems will continue to become more targeted with the expanded use of ever more sophisticated intraoperative image guidance and pre-procedural planning with enhanced functional and structural imaging platforms, from CT to MRI to PET. Gloved surgeons’ hands will increasingly rarely feel the warmth of the patient’s body as technologies and devices … fill the interface between the surgeon and patient’s body.”
— BARBARA BASS, M.D.
Executive Director of the Houston Methodist Institute for Technology, Innovation & Education (MITIE)
“In health care, I expect the political debate will go in one of two directions. One direction will be around modifications, expansions and improvements in Medicare as a vehicle for ensuring access to health care and with a particular recipe for handling costs. … The second touchstone is around the Affordable Care Act, its promise and potentially its substitution. The ACA is still functioning, but it’s going to undergo some challenges.”
— STEPHEN LINDER, PH.D.
Associate Director of the Texas Medical Center Health Policy Institute
Director of the Institute for Health Policy and a Distinguished Teaching Professor in the Department of Management, Policy and Community Health at UTHealth School of Public Health