Leroy Hood, Turning 70, Still Aims to Accomplish “The Most Ambitious Things of My Career”

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His quest is to usher in the genetic-based era of what he calls P4 medicine, short for predictive, preventive, personalized, and participatory.

First, he still gets by on about four to five hours of sleep at night, he says. When he’s in Seattle, he typically wakes up at 4 am to 5 am, and works a couple hours on his laptop. He then heads downstairs from his condominium in the Pike Place Market neighborhood to the gym, where he runs on a treadmill for 25 minutes and lifts weights for about 10 minutes, he says. He arrives at the office between 7 am and 9 am, and like on the day we met, typically has back-to-back meetings all day. He often has a working lunch brought in to the office, or picks up a bowl of soup across the street at the Essential Baking Company. Usually, he drinks a couple cups of coffee a day, and the occasional latte from Starbucks. But he claims he doesn’t need much artificial stimulation. “I think a lot of the drive comes from the fact that what we’re doing is unbelievably exciting, and it’s really going to change the world,” Hood says.

About one-third of the day is usually dedicated to science, and two-thirds for what he calls “everything else.” He tries to head home by 5 pm or 6 pm. Sometimes he works in the evening at home; other times he doesn’t, and just does some reading and thinking. He and his wife, Valerie Logan, often like to get out and walk downtown, especially to see Impressionist paintings at the Seattle Art Museum. “Downtown Seattle is really fun,” he says.

While he was telling me this, he was swiveling in his office chair, apparently with energy to burn. I asked him to show me his calendar for that day, September 18, and I found it revealing:

—Hood started his day being interviewed by a reporter at Science magazine for an article about networks, for about 40 minutes. “He didn’t know nearly as much about networks as he should if he’s going to write an article. I helped him, and gave him a bunch of references to look up,” he says. (Naturally made me gulp a bit, about whether I, too, was well-enough prepared.)

—Next, he met with Artie Buerk, a former president of Shurgard Storage and the founding partner of Buerk Dale Victor, a venture capital firm in Seattle. “Really interesting guy,” Hood says. “We talked about possible strategic partnering in Singapore among other things.”

—Then, he spoke to someone at the University of Virginia who invited Hood to give a lecture on the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s birth (Feb. 12, 2009) about the naturalist and evolution. The guy wanted to know what Hood planned to talk about. “I equivocated and told him, I’d put together two alternative scenarios and he could choose from them, so he was happy about that,” Hood says.

—After that, Hood spoke over the phone with Doug Fambrough, a general partner with Oxford Bioscience Partners in Boston. “He’s the son of a really good friend of mine that I went to graduate school with, so I’ve known him since he was a little kid.” The subject turned to Hood’s new company, Integrated Diagnostics. “He was excited about it,” Hood says.

—Next was a conversation with a banker from Bank of America about financing options on ISB’s loan for its building. Hood didn’t say much about that, but he got more animated about the next item on the calendar, a conversation with Baylor Medical Center in Texas about a partnership that will give ISB access to “enormously interesting” patients with autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis. They also have some intellectual property that might be of use to Integrated Diagnostics, so a meeting was scheduled, Hood says. … Next Page »

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5 responses to “Leroy Hood, Turning 70, Still Aims to Accomplish “The Most Ambitious Things of My Career””

  1. Johnny StineJohnny Stine says:

    Happy 70th birthday Lee!!!

    Everyone should know the following about Lee. I’ve attended several ISB retreats and I’ve been a part of many late night gatherings after the meetings were over. But on this last trip to Seabeck, a group of us stayed up until 2:00 a.m. one morning and 3:00 a.m. the next morning singing, playing guitars, and drinking beer and wine. Both occasions Lee was there until the bitter end playing his recorder! The second night (or morning), it was approaching 3:00 a.m. and Lee leaned over and tapped me on the shoulder and said “I have to get up at 7:00 a.m.” and he said good night and walked away. I just had to laugh and be amazed. Lee at 70 is closing down the house – showing up the vast majority of us mortals.
    Here’s to making the vision a reality!