HOW MUCH DATA CAN BE GATHERED ABOUT A SINGLE PERSON?
Collecting the combined personal omics and other relevant data from a single individual—for example, the genome, transcriptome, proteome, metabolome, microbiome, as well as exercise, biomolecules, and environmental exposure information, plus imaging data from PET scans, MRIs, radiographs, etc.— will lead to enormous volumes of data associated with each individual (Figure 1). How much information is this? A genome sequence normally takes about one half terabyte of space, while other molecular omics information, depending upon the type, can represent several terabytes; thus, with multiple time points collected during a person’s life, hundreds of terabytes of data can easily be collected. Imaging data can be much larger and and push this number even higher. Thus, it is plausible that one to several petabytes of information can quickly be generated for a single person. Although it may be possible to reduce the amount of data by discarding raw data and simply saving summaries, this might be a huge mistake, at least in the short-term, as new algorithms are continuously developed that improve the analysis of information that can be extracted from raw data. It seems likely that during the initial development phase of personalized medicine, individuals will get their raw data reanalyzed frequently, resulting in an improvement in interpretation.
Figure 1. Large amounts of data will be collected about each person. This includes information about each person’s genome, microbiome, other omics information, and wearable devices. Both individuals and physicians will need to know how to work with these data.