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Informatics helps doctors unlock medical mysteries in mounds of data

Star Tribune, August 6, 2013

It's hard to see the future of medicine through the scabs, blisters and scars that torment 7-year-old Charlie Knuth as he makes his way haltingly to a checkup at the U of M Amplatz Children's Hospital. But the boy from Appleton, Wis., is helping doctors perfect a pioneering intervention called gene editing, a procedure that could lend hope to thousands of people suffering from hundreds of diseases — including epidermolysis bullosa, the disorder that causes Charlie's skin to shear off and his eyes to blister. Charlie's case also illustrates the power of an emerging field called "biomedical and health care informatics" that's beginning to revolutionize every aspect of medicine, from laboratory research to clinical treatments.