Innovating Healthcare: Harnessing AI and Data for Future Personalized Solutions

Innovating Healthcare

In the realm of future healthcare innovation, Dr. Momo Vuyisich has blazed a trail with 25 years of extensive experience in microbiology, chemistry, and bioinformatics. With a relentless passion for translating scientific discoveries into practical solutions, Vuyisich has spearheaded the shift in how we approach wellness and fulfilling the dream of all illness being optional.

In a recent Q&A session, Momo shared his insights on the challenges of chronic diseases, the limitations of genetic-centric approaches, and the revolutionary concept of Nutrition 2.0. From debunking myths to envisioning a future where healthcare is proactive and personalized, Vuyisich's perspectives shed light on the transformative potential of data-driven, objective healthcare strategies.

Q: Can you share your thoughts on the Human Genome Project and its influence on moving forward with possibly curing chronic disease?

Momo: In the 1990s, we pushed for sequencing the human genome. The promise was that once we sequence the human genome, we will cure all diseases. That has turned out to be completely false. Chronic diseases are actually, in many ways, on the rise. Not only is type two diabetes increasing in prevalence in the overall population, it's increasing in the younger population. More and more younger people are getting type two diabetes than before. Not only did the Human Genome Project not solve this problem, it's gotten a lot worse since the project finished. So that original promise that human genetics was going to solve these problems is completely false. And that needs to be simply revealed and publicized.

Q: Where do you propose shifting the focus to from genetics in tackling chronic diseases?

Momo: There is a peer reviewed publication by a scientist stating facts that genetic factors are not the major cause of chronic diseases.1 So that's one of many papers that has come out recently.

Scientists need to admit that it was a mistake that we need to now shift our focus from genetics to epigenetics, but that's a very difficult shift to make. Back in 2010, I completely shifted my scientific career and everyone, every single peer that I had, everyone that I knew in life, they said, that's career suicide. Well, it takes an extra effort to change your scientific career, but we have to do that because it's clear now that genetics is not going to help us.

The best evidence for chronic diseases and cancer not being genetic is when they study identical twins. In very large twin studies, it's already been shown that diseases like Crohn's disease, several cancers type 2 diabetes, they're all lifestyle diseases. They're not genetic diseases because identical twins have the same DNA; if one of them develops it, the other one does not. And so there's now quite a bit of evidence. I don't have to wave my hands and try to convince people like I did ten years ago.

And even if it is partially genetic, it can still be prevented with a lifestyle and diet change. So, even if genetics plays a role, not everyone who has that higher genetic risk is going to develop the disease. So there is lifestyle and diet that can control that switch, and we have to be conscientious of that.

So, speaking of lifestyle and diet, now we get into the real meat of this, which is Nutrition 2.0, which is something that we invented at Viome. I sort of imagined it back in 2010, about six years before we started Viome. I have a PhD in chemistry and I have an undergraduate degree in microbiology. I have run many labs in chemistry, biochemistry, microbiology. So this is my comfort zone. 

Q: Can you elaborate on Nutrition 2.0 and its approach to health and wellness?

Momo: If I go to three mathematicians and I ask them, what is two plus two? And they all gave me the same answer, I'm like, wow, math is a very objective science. I like that. If I go to three nutritionists and tell them what my symptoms are, I will probably get three different recommendations. But if you get three different recommendations from three experts given the same input, that doesn't make any of them scientists. And that's what triggered me to say, well, wait a minute, how can that be? 

And so, Nutrition 2.0 is a quantum leap in nutritional science in that it is a hundred percent data- driven and objective a hundred percent. So I will focus on this chemistry plus math, but chemistry is a very objective science. Math is a very objective science today. From the moment that a test sample arrives at Viome until it goes through all of the laboratory analysis, all the bioinformatic analysis, and all the AI models in order to compute the diet for a person, there is no human opinion involved in any step of the way.

It is also highly personalized. There is a diet for every person. We have hundreds of thousands of customers in 106 countries and we have hundreds of thousands of diets. There are no two people who have the same diet because there is no “diet.” We recommend just what ingredients each person needs and which ingredients they need to avoid based on their test results, and that's mapped to their diet. 

Q: What is the goal of Nutrition 2.0, and how does this way of eating keep up with any changes in the user or new clinical research on nutrition?

Momo: The goal of Nutrition 2.0 is to keep you healthy in order to prevent disease and slow down aging. It's not just to eat healthy; it's truly to live a better life. And an extremely important point is it continuously improves by self-learning.

Momo: From day one, every single customer adds data to the database, every single clinical research participant adds data to the database, and we use machine learning to learn from it. So when we talk about chemistry, we are not changing the chemistry, we're still measuring the same chemistry that we've been measuring from the start of ion, but the mathematical equations that are overlaid on top of that chemistry are continuously evolving as we learn.

So no matter how good this Nutrition 2.0 is today, it's better tomorrow, and it's better the next day, better a year later, and it's continuously improving in a very objective way. And that's really one of the critical components that we've added to Viome from the start and that's going to continuously drive this process to be better and better.

Q: Is there anything that you have showing the efficacy of Nutriton 2.0?

Momo: Yes, so let’s talk about learning the math for this. We've published quite a few journal articles on this. It deals with–how do we convert stool, blood, and saliva into digital data? How do we measure the chemistry of the microbes of their genes of human genes? All of that has been published; it's out there. That's the chemistry, and that has not changed, and that will not change for a very long time because that is the fundamental chemistry of our body that includes the microbes and our immune system and our genes and so on. 

So, let's talk about the math. I'm also the head of clinical research programs at Viome. And that's another thing that we've revolutionized to the point where we made a quantum leap in clinical research programs. We have enrolled 16,000 clinical research participants in six years at Viome.

Even though we're a small biotech company, we have been able to perform an enormous amount of clinical research with the resources we have because we're super efficient. And so one of the big studies that we've performed in the US and Japan is to determine how the gut microbiome determines the glycemic response to different foods. 

The simple observation here is if you mount a continuous glucose monitor on two people and feed them the same foods, you can see that they can have completely reverse responses to those same foods. The green line here corresponds to a banana, fed to two people, and you can see in person one it spiked their blood sugar very high and person two, it did not.

The purple is the sprouted grain bread. You can see that the effect is reversed. If you look up on Google Glycemic Index of foods, you will see that a banana has one glycemic index for everyone, which is the “average person.” And that wheat bread has an index for everyone the same, which is the average one. But it turns out none of us are average. All of us have individualized responses. Viome launched these studies and we invested an enormous amount of time and money in learning how each person will respond to every food based on the gut microbiome. This has been published as well. But in summary, we enrolled 1100 participants, half in the USA and half in Japan. We performed the stool test, that's the chemistry, and then we fed them certain foods for 14 days while monitoring their glucose.

We measured a total of 60,000 meals and snacks consumed by these 1100 people. And we provided the food for 40,000 of those meals so that we know exactly what went into them. We had truckloads of food delivered from Whole Foods in order to deliver them to the participants. It was an enormous effort, but we measured the glucose response to 60,000 meals in 1100 participants. We built a machine-learned model that allows us now to recommend to someone exactly what to eat and how much of that to eat in order to minimize their exposure to high glycemic response in blood. Now, every single customer of Viome benefits from this, it’s all built into our app. This is simply learned from actual data from actual human beings in a very large setting, and that's the best way to do science. 

Q: If someone wanted to participate in a Viome Study, what should they do?

Momo: Excellent. is the nutritional branch of our company, and Viome Life Sciences is the parent company where I work. If you visit the Studies page on the Viome Life Sciences website, you can see all the active studies we have currently running, and you can apply right there! 

Thank you, Momo!


1 Rappaport SM. (2016). PLoS One. 2016 Apr 22;11(4):e0154387. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0154387. PMID: 27105432; PMCID: PMC4841510.