Monday, September 28, 2009

Executive Spotlight: Dr. Jonathon Lord, CEO of Navigenics

Dr. Jonathon “Jack” Lord is the CEO of Navigenics, the premier provider of genetics testing. He’s served in the position for about 100 days and in the interview below discusses what sets Navigenics apart from other genetic testing companies, why and when he thinks genetics testing will become the norm and Navigenics’ growth strategy for the next few years. Dr. Lord came to Navigenics from Louisville, Kentucky-based Humana, Inc., where as chief innovation officer he led the development of new products and services to fundamentally transform the healthcare system and support personal health needs. Dr. Lord also led Humana’s international efforts as chief executive of Humana Europe.

Before Humana, Dr. Lord was president of Health Dialog in Boston, where he helped pioneer e-enabled healthcare and promoted shared decision making between doctors and patients. He previously served as chief operating officer of the American Hospital Association in Washington, D.C., executive vice president of Anne Arundel Medical Center in Annapolis, M.D., and executive vice president of Sun Health in Charlotte, NC.

Dr. Lord is a board-certified forensic pathologist with more than three decades of experience in medical practice and leadership. He launched his medical career with the U.S. Navy, where he spent 11 years on active duty and served in leadership positions for the Navy’s Surgeon General and Secretary of the Navy.

He currently serves on the Advisory Board to the Director of the CDC, the National Biosurveillance Committee, and the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Chronic Disease and Malnutrition. He is also a director for Stericycle (SRCL) and DexCom (DXCM).

He received his medical degree from the University of Miami in 1978. Dr. Lord has held multiple academic appointments, including Adjunct Professor of Community Medicine at the Dartmouth Medical School.

Q: Tell me about Navigenics, its products and what’s in the pipeline.
Navigenics is the premier provider of personalized genetics testing. We test for a number of health conditions such as breast cancer, colon cancer, type 2 diabetes and heart attack. We are developing a product around pharmacogenomics, which will test people for drugs they may respond to or have an adverse reaction to or metabolize slower or faster than others. Our tests are saliva-based and we are able to provide the testing out of our lab in West Sacramento. We feel we are at a really exciting frontier that will change the way healthcare is delivered.

Q: How many people work at Navigenics and how many locations do you have?
We employ about 45 people, mostly at our headquarters in Foster City with 10 at our lab in Sacramento.

Q: Which companies do you view as your main competitors and what are your main competitive advantages?
Our main competitors are 23andMe, deCODE and Pathways Genomics. We are conservative in qualifying the science that is used to ensure the quality of our tests. Navigenics is primarily focused around working closely with clinicians, testing for diseases and conditions that are actionable, preventable or treatable. We integrate our reports with the physician’s practice and work to educate physicians about personalized genetics and the application of the results to mapping out treatment options for patients. Our other focus is working with large employers like Microsoft, Cisco, Scripps, and large physician groups, like MDVIP, the largest premier medical practice in the United States.

We’re a subscription service providing genetic testing, access to genetic counselors and we store DNA. As we have additional tests and as science changes, we retest DNA and give you updates regarding new conditions and new insights about your health and how you can take action to be healthy.

Q: What changes can we expect in your industry in the coming years?
We really feel this whole field is the harbinger of a new era in medicine. The next wave is really about identifying the potential for illness and being in a position to mitigate or prevent illness before it occurs.

Q: What segment of your business do you see as the primary growth driver this year and next?
Navigenics’ relationship with large employers, health plans and governments outside the U.S. that are focused on health and well being and developing a focus on understanding that the prevention of illness enables reform in healthcare. Many large employers are self-funded and invest in health and well-being programs for their employees, such as health risk appraisals, and weight reduction and smoking cessation programs. Large employers see the testing we provide as a way to activate interest in existing programs and motivate their employees to change behavior. We work directly with human resources departments and our tests are qualified for flex spending and health savings accounts. We also have the option for payroll deduction.

Q: What is your greatest hope for the technology?
My greatest hope is that personalized genetic testing becomes more accessible. We need to work together to expand access to this technology by increasing awareness and highlighting the need for reimbursement. I hope this testing becomes the norm, rather than the exception. We are just at the beginning.

Q: How long until it does become the norm?
Right now we’re seeing uptake especially among the high tech and health industries. We see it as a great opportunity for hospitals to bring their own staffs up to date with this technology.

Q: What keeps you up at night?
Not much. I’ve never been a worrier. I think there are lots of challenges and it’s really important to be vigilant as opposed to being worried. We have to be rigorous and stay committed to the vision of how this will transform healthcare and behavior for healthier lifestyles.

Q: What do you do to relax?
I love to play golf, drink wine and I’ve been doing a little bit of cooking these days.

Q: What’s your favorite thing to cook?
This season it’s been heirloom tomatoes. They’ve been so flavorful!

Q: If your house were on fire, what would you grab?
My wife, of course!

Q: When you were young, what did you aspire to be as an adult?
I am a physician and I think I aspired to that pretty early on. I had this Marcus Welby vision of what a doctor is. It’s been a great pathway for me to do a lot of things. I love the moment I’m in and I keep moving.

Q: Any regrets?
No regrets. My focus is in the moment: don’t look back and don’t worry about the future.

Q: What are you reading?
I’ve been here about 100 days so have been focused on my work here and haven’t read anything lately, but I do have a pretty eclectic collection of things I read. I look to Facebook and my network of friends to find interesting articles from around the world.

Q: How do you want people remember you?
That I made a difference giving people the information they need to be the best they can be.

***Note to readers: Dr. Lord extended the offer to me to take the Navigenics test so I will be blogging in the near future about my experiences with the technology. Don’t forget to check back on the blog for updates.***
CHI-Advancing California biomedical research and innovation

Bookmark and Share

No comments: