National Lambda Rail (NLR) is an ultra high-performance 12,000 mile optical network serving a wide range of academic disciplines and public-private partnerships and a test bed for advanced research at over 280 universities and private and US government research labs.

Last year, NLR and all of its assets were acquired by billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong when he assumed responsibility for the organizations debt through a $100 million dollar cash infusion via his Phoenix, AZ-based non-profit the Chan Soon-Shiong Institute for Advanced Health (CSS Institute).

This past week NLR announced it has partnered with AT&T to begin putting into practice the grand vision of Soon-Shiong to use NLR's advanced network to disrupt health care delivery. AT&T will deliver high bandwidth connectivity to NLR's national network infrastructure for leading health sciences institutions, starting with Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California.

“Saint John’s is delighted to be the first hospital in the country to connect,” said Lou Lazatin, President and CEO of Saint John’s Health Center. “This will allow Saint John’s and its cancer research subsidiary, the renowned John Wayne Cancer Institute, to create a gene sequencing center enabling identification of genetic, genomic, and clinical information to tailor treatment and targeted therapies to each individual’s disease.”

NLR Chairman and CEO Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong described the agreement as “a major advance towards an integrated, robust and secure healthcare information infrastructure for the United States. Working closely with AT&T, NLR plans to offer medical organizations the data handling capacity to make genomic medicine a reality — no longer confined to researchers, but a transformative tool in the hands of doctors at the point of care.

This is the first step to bring genomic science directly to the clinical world of genomic pathology in a way that will support treatment decisions and improved clinical outcomes.”

“Our AT&T ForHealth vision is that technology and smart networks can help create a healthier world, and these connections will help healthcare providers improve the quality of patient care and outcomes,” said William Archer, President of Advanced Solutions, AT&T Business and Home Solutions. “As NLR creates a national intranet of health, we plan to help them manage complexity, control costs, improve productivity, and deploy applications and technology infrastructure to advance continuous improvement in healthcare.”

The ultimate goal of the NLR-AT&T partnership is to connect virtually all of the nation's key academic, healthcare and research institutions to accelerate the translation of new science into therapy and better care. I have certainly been critical of Dr. Soon-Shiong's efforts in the past, but this is one project I applaud him for getting right.