Meet the World’s Most Bio-Tracked Man
Michael Snyder might be the most bio-tracked man in the world. He’s tested 14 of his “-omes,” such as the standard genome and microbiome as well as the less-well-known metabolome, transcriptome, proteome, immunome, and exposome. At any given time, he has eight devices on or around his body tracking his heart rate, blood oxygen, step count, blood glucose, radiation exposure, and even the surrounding air quality.
“It’s data galore,” says the Stanford University genetics professor on a recent Saturday afternoon at his office. Snyder is an animated talker and quick to laugh, with deep smile lines around his eyes. He is a man who loves what he does, and it shows. “I’m a pretty big nerd,” he says. “Here I am on a Saturday. That probably tells you all you need to know.”
Snyder thinks the way we approach medicine is entirely wrong and that mining our personal health data could be the key to fixing it. His ambitions are two-fold: Instead of focusing on treating people when they’re sick, he wants to concentrate on keeping them well. And rather than basing treatment decisions on population studies, he believes medicine should be individualized. The idea is that if you know you have a genetic risk for a disease, you can proactively manage your health better, and awareness of your baseline measurements provides earlier insight into when you might fall ill.
“We are very focused on treating people when they’re sick,” he says. “It’s very reactive. We should obviously be focused on keeping people healthy.”
Snyder is applying his background in biology, chemistry, and big data to try to fix the field of medicine. His original claim to fame is conducting large-scale analyses of DNA, RNA, and proteins, often in yeast. When he moved his lab to Stanford from Yale 10 years ago, he also decided to change his research focus. Now he’s using the same technology to try to improve people’s health. And in the tradition of many scientists before…