Eric Topol

Scientific translator

2 minute read

These days, Dr. Eric Topol is perhaps best known for his X account, where he faithfully interprets the latest research on COVID-19 for a following of almost 700,000—including many fellow scientists and public-health experts, who turn to him for a digest of the latest news and science. The newfound notoriety is funny to Topol, given that he’s been an influential researcher for about four decades, during which time he’s written three books and 1,300 peer-reviewed studies, making him one of the most cited scientists working today.

Most of Topol’s work has nothing to do with COVID-19. He is a practicing cardiologist and executive vice president at Scripps Research, an organization that translates basic science findings into innovations that can help patients. For the past several years, he’s been focused on how artificial intelligence can improve health care, in ways ranging from big data analysis to providing feedback on clinicians’ bedside manner. That interest in pioneering new methods of information analysis isn’t just theoretical: Topol has collected massive amounts of data as a principal investigator for the U.S. National Institutes of Health’s All of Us study, a massive effort to determine the effects of genetics, environment, and lifestyle on the health of 1 million Americans from all walks of life. 

The thread that ties together his long and diverse career, Topol says, is an ability “to look at lots of different data points and come up with what it means”—whether the data is on infectious disease, AI, or anything in between. Oh, and spreading that information to nearly a million people every day.

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