Mom and the Age of Medical Miracles

A decade ago, I was in a TV studio interviewing an old acquaintance, the business writer Tom Peters. This was at the beginning of the dot-com boom and the height of the Human Genome Project, so after the shoot we stood around and talked about the amazing advances taking place in the tech world. At one point Tom said, "You know, I'm so glad I was alive to see the electronics revolution; and I am so glad that I won't be alive to see the biotech revolution." We both laughed ruefully.

But Tom Peters was -- and I think he'd now agree -- wrong on two counts. First, the biotech revolution came on faster than anyone expected. And second, I'll bet Tom is glad it has.

So am I. As it happens, that magazine story I was working on when my mother called was about Agilent Corp., the spinoff of HP that originally owned the Waltham plant. Agilent, I learned in my interviews, is racing to develop the next generation of pharmaceutical test and measurement equipment, the ones that will help create not just designer drugs, but drugs specifically designed for individual genetic groups. And, even as Mom was recovering in my guest room, San Francisco was chosen at the site of California's new $3 billion stem cell research program. Local VCs are already warming up their checkbooks. In other words, the medical technology miracle has just begun.

And that means, after a scary 10 days, I can rest easy. Mom is alive. My kids still have their grandma. And I know the hospital will be more prepared than ever when it's my turn to race through those emergency room doors.

This work is the opinion of the columnist and in no way reflects the opinion of ABC News.

Michael S. Malone, once called “the Boswell of Silicon Valley,” most recently was editor at large of Forbes ASAP magazine. He has covered Silicon Valley and high-tech for more than 20 years, beginning with the San Jose Mercury-News as the nation's first daily high-tech reporter. His articles and editorials have appeared in such publications as The Wall Street Journal, The Economist and Fortune, and for two years he was a columnist for The New York Times. He has hosted two national PBS shows: "Malone," a half-hour interview program that ran for nine years, and in 2001, a 16-part interview series called "Betting It All: The Entrepreneurs." Malone is best known as the author of a dozen books. His latest book, a collection of his best newspaper and magazine writings, is called "The Valley of Heart's Delight."

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