I'm not average.
For one, I'm a bit taller than the average guy. My hair went silver earlier than I expected. And I'm fortunate that it's easier for me to keep trim than a lot of people I know.
On the downside, I've got various allergies and genetic maladies that most folks don't.
My environment isn't average either. Here in Silicon Valley and the San Francisco Bay Area, I spend my days in some of the most polluted cities in the United States. Of course, in other ways, this region rates much higher than most of America.
Then there are my habits. For example, I eat well, but don't get to the gym enough.
I bet you're the same way – but different.
No one is average.
And that's why it often seems like maintaining a healthy diet, getting plenty of exercise, and regular checkups just aren't enough to keep us healthy. If it were, no one would gain too much weight, go bald at 30, or get cancer.
By our very nature, each of us is so unique that this one-size-fits-all approach just isn't enough.
That's what opened the door for an emerging field known as precision medicine. The idea here is to set up disease prevention and treatment measures for each and every individual, accounting for your genes, environment, and lifestyle… for my genes, environment, and lifestyle.
Think of it as a partnership – a "convergence" – among traditional medicine, molecular biology, data analysis, and cloud computing.
Doctors and other medical diagnosticians collect our info and then feed it to the cloud. There software and data scientists can crunch through all that data – and then use what they turn up to prescribe precise disease treatments and preventative measures for each individual.
Mordor Intelligence has run the numbers – and says precision medicine will be worth $59.2 billion by 2021.
And I've spotted a hidden way to play this hot new field with a stock with which you'll soon be quadrupling the market's return…
Enter Mr. Softy
All this makes software engineers and data analysts as important to your health as your physician.
And so it shouldn't be a surprise that Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) recently entered this field by striking a new deal with a noted biotech services firm.
Or maybe it is a surprise to you. Hardly anyone thinks of Microsoft as a company at the cutting edge of medical science.
This is a firm focused on software for PCs, mobile computing, and cloud computing. But it's exactly that last segment that gives Microsoft its precision medicine edge.
Azure is the cloud computing platform that has helped Microsoft turn from an also ran to second place behind Amazon Web Services. (It's also what makes Microsoft one of our top-performing legal marijuana stocks.)
In its most recent quarter, that Azure unit posted 90% growth. The company also said its commercial cloud yearly run rate reached $20.4 billion in the quarter.
Now here's how Microsoft is getting involved in precision medicine.
Just two days before that Oct. 26 quarterly report, Microsoft announced a new pact with Parexel International Corp., a privately held biotech research and consulting firm. Parexel helps biotech companies perform clinical trials, control and share data, and track and report patient outcomes.
The two firms say they joined forces so they can help the healthcare industry "deliver on the promise of precision medicine." And they plan to do so by plugging Parexel's bioinformatics technology into Microsoft's Azure cloud platform.
It's not just about making people healthier – it's also part of a drive to lower the nation's $1.7 trillion healthcare tab. And it has the full backing of the U.S. government.
Last year, Congress approved spending some $215 million on a National Institutes of Health Precision Medicine Initiative in order to "pioneer a new model of patient-powered research." That initial investment includes…
- $130 million for NIH to develop a database of 1 million volunteers for genetic testing and other data
- $70 million to the National Cancer Institute to scale up efforts to identify genomic drivers in cancer
- $10 million to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to develop high-quality, curated databases to support the regulatory structure needed to advance innovation in precision medicine and protect public health
Sure, Microsoft's move into the new sector is one way to play this new field, and it should definitely be on your list of stocks to "accumulate" on dips and pullbacks.
But I think there's a better way to profit directly from it all…
About the Author
Michael A. Robinson is one of the top financial analysts working today. His book "Overdrawn: The Bailout of American Savings" was a prescient look at the anatomy of the nation's S&L crisis, long before the word "bailout" became part of our daily lexicon. He's a Pulitzer Prize-nominated writer and reporter, lauded by the Columbia Journalism Review for his aggressive style. His 30-year track record as a leading tech analyst has garnered him rave reviews, too. Today he is the editor of the monthly tech investing newsletter Nova-X Report as well as Radical Technology Profits, where he covers truly radical technologies – ones that have the power to sweep across the globe and change the very fabric of our lives – and profit opportunities they give rise to. He also explores "what's next" in the tech investing world at Strategic Tech Investor.