Former IBMer Pete Martinez wants to use data analysis to improve health.
Under his Boca Raton startup venture Game Changer Tec, he aims to bring together health, data science and academic professionals with the goal of changing the conversation about the body’s performance and wellness.
People can learn, for example, which specific foods and drinks cause them inflammation, which can lead to discomfort or, eventually, disease.
“We analyze what in their blood makes them sensitive to different foods, what makes them feel bloated, or gives them brain fog,” Martinez said.
Using this food sensitivity and genomics testing, the consumer or an athlete can then personalize their diets. As a result, “sleep gets better, digestion, energy levels, performance gets better,” he said.
“The keys that make us individually healthy are very personal,” Martinez said.
The Game Changer Tec program, which includes the food sensitivity testing and health coaching, costs $479 for youths; $689 for adults; and $749 for athletes, according to the company’s website.
Today’s supercomputers have made individual gene structure studies quick and affordable — costing about $250 per client with results available in just one day, he said. That helps Game Changer Tec develop personalized training for the athlete.
“We have different body structures and react different to exercise,” Martinez said.
The company’s ultimate goal, though, is to build a new “ecosystem” or network of organizations that helps identify patterns by collecting health data from athletes and consumers through a fast data-processing computer, Martinez said.
That would increase the knowledge base, he said, and action based on that knowledge could potentially prevent sports injuries and degenerative diseases from developing.
Martinez, 62, founded Game Changer Tec about two years ago. An executive with IBM for 32 years, he led the technology giant’s consulting business in Boca Raton from 2004 to 2007, when he retired. He remained in Boca Raton and had been working on projects in education and health.
“He’s a legend in Boca from his experience at IBM,” said Dan Cane, founder and CEO of health care technology company Modernizing Medicine in Boca Raton. “He really loves ideas and people. Those are powerful things to bring together.”
Cane said Martinez has identified a rich market with Game Changer Tec.
“People want to understand their bodies better. There’s a global shift from health care being [based] around ‘care’ and more focused on health,” he said.
Mohammad Ilyas, dean and professor of the College of Engineering at Florida Atlantic University, said Martinez has the focus and knowledge to pursue Game Changer Tec’s concept.
“He’s thinking differently and trying to make something that’s better for our society. The goal is to keep people healthy,” said Illyas, who has known Martinez for more than 30 years.
Ilyas said big data — vast amounts of information from patients, electronic health records and other sources — could help doctors make more informed decisions about treatment.
Game Change Tec already has collected data on thousands of athletes and consumers.
In South Florida, Game Changer Tec said it has worked with a football team and with individual high school and pro athletes in the region. However, the company has agreed not to disclose its clients, Martinez said.
Game Changer Tec is collecting data by providing food sensitivity testing at LakePoint Sporting Community in Emerson, Ga. With 1.5 million young athletes and their families expected to visit the sports vacation destination this year, the community “becomes a living laboratory” for Game Changer Tec, Martinez said.
LakePoint, which opened in 2014, offers tournaments in baseball, basketball, volleyball, cable wake boarding, lacrosse, soccer, cheerleading and competitive dance.
Founder and president Neal Freeman said he has observed athletes performing and feeling better after changing their diet and health regime with the help of Game Changer Tec.
“So many things we think are good for you, such as blueberries or fish, in your body they might be creating inflammation,” he said.
Game Changer Tec also has partnered with Michael Bergeron of Youth Sports of the Americas, an organization that promotes healthy and safe youth sports participation. Through his work developing young athletes with the Olympic Committee, Bergeron said he has recognized “the need to develop a platform that’s more holistic.”
“As we look at athletic development as a whole, we need to know a lot more about athletes who were injured and the circumstances, and about the ones not hurt,” Bergeron said.
Collecting and analyzing such data would help us “make better assumptions about what the risk is and what preventive measure can be taken,” he said.
One example is players who have suffered concussions in sports. Bergeron and Game Changer Tec plan to pursue further studies on concussions, using the company’s data analytics.
Dr. Julian Bailes Jr., known for his controversial study of football and concussions, is a board member of Youth Sports of the Americas as well as chairman of neurosurgery at the NorthShore Neurological Institute near Chicago.
The 2015 movie, “Concussion,” chronicled his research and that of Dr. Bennet Omalu, a pathologist who discovered brain disease in retired football players who had died. The doctors’ research was initially rejected and challenged by the National Football League.
However, a Congressional committee earlier this year proposed a bill, the Youth Sports Concussion Act, to bring more oversight to sports equipment manufacturers that claim their products, such as football helmets, prevent injuries. The bill has been introduced in the Senate.
“We’re looking at this issue of sports concussions and where do we need to go with this. To date, the perspective that we have is very limited,” Bergeron said.
Martinez is excited about those possibilities for the future of the sport.
“What if we could understand the level of inflammation already in the brain that could create a predisposition to concussion?” he said.
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