The future of healthcare? Blood tests, says Bill Gates

Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft and co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, argued noninvasive blood tests are the future of healthcare in a piece for Wired.

For the 25th-anniversary issue of the magazine, Wired invited 25 of the digital revolutionaries that its staff said are the "most responsible for the changes of the past quarter-century" to nominate someone they think will significantly change society in the next 25 years.

Mr. Gates, one of Wired's digital revolution icons from the past 25 years, nominated Stephen Quake, PhD, a professor of bioengineering and applied physics at Stanford University in California and co-president of the Chan Zuckerberg Biohub, a collaborative effort by UC Berkeley, UC San Francisco and Stanford University funded by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan, MD.

"By sampling the small amount of genetic material that circulates in the bloodstream, [Dr. Quake is] replacing invasive, often painful procedures with cheaper, easier blood tests," Mr. Gates wrote. "He's built a career out of turning highly specialized procedures into something simple that can be done anywhere, including the most remote places in the world."

With funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Dr. Quake's lab has published a study into the effectiveness of using a blood test to predict a pregnant woman's due date within a two-week window. Dr. Quake is also investigating blood tests for infectious diseases and has already developed a blood test to detect genetic disorders, such as Down syndrome, in fetuses, according to Mr. Gates.

"More accurate, less expensive and earlier diagnosis of issues will revolutionize how we treat people and prevent disease while reducing costs," Mr. Gates wrote. "This is the direction medicine is headed, and Stephen Quake is leading the way."

To read Mr. Gates' nomination in Wired, click here.

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