HGP10 Seminar Series Speaker Bios


George Church, Ph.D.

George Church, Ph.D. is a professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School and professor of health, sciences and technology at Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is also director of the U.S. Department of Energy Center on Bioenergy at Harvard and MIT and director of the National Institutes of Health Center of Excellence in Genomic Science at Harvard. He is widely recognized for his innovative contributions to genomic science and his many pioneering contributions to chemistry and biomedicine. In 1984, he developed the first direct genomic sequencing method, which resulted in the first commercial genome sequence, the pathogen Helicobacter pylori. His work helped initiate the Human Genome Project in 1984 and the Personal Genome Project in 2005. He has received numerous awards, including the 2011 Bower Award and Prize for Achievement in Science from the Franklin Institute, the 2009 Promega Biotechnology Research Award from the American Society for Microbiology and the number four spot on the 2008 list of The Scientist's top 10 innovations. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering.

Isaac Kohane, M.D., Ph.D.

Isaac Kohane, M.D., Ph.D. is the chair of the Children's Hospital Informatics Program, Boston, and the Lawrence J. Henderson Professor of Pediatrics and Health Sciences and Technology at Harvard Medical School (HMS). He leads many HMS collaborations with its hospital affiliates in the use of genomics and computer science to study cancer and the development of the brain (with an emphasis on autism). He has developed several computer systems to allow multiple hospital systems to be used to study the genetic basis of disease while preserving patient privacy, and leads several National Institutes of Health-funded efforts to translate genomic research into clinical practice. He is also the founder and associate director for the HMS Center for Genetic Epidemiology, co-director of the HMS Center for Biomedical Informatics and director of the HMS Countway Library of Medicine. Dr. Kohane, who was also a founder of the Center for Outcomes and Policy Research at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, continues his medical practice in pediatric endocrinology at Boston Children's Hospital.

Caryn Lerman, Ph.D.

Caryn Lerman, Ph.D. is the Mary W. Calkins Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania. She is also director of Penn's NIH-funded Center for Interdisciplinary Research on Nicotine Addiction, and the deputy director of the Abramson Cancer Center. Dr. Lerman's research focuses on nicotine dependence medication development and pharmacogenetics. She directs the National Cancer Institute (NCI)/National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) Transdisciplinary Tobacco Use Research Center, which focuses on the translation of basic research in pharmacology, genetics and neuroscience to develop better treatments for nicotine dependence. A member of the Institute of Medicine, her many honors include the American Psychological Association Award for Outstanding Contributions to Health Psychology, the American Society of Preventive Oncology Joseph W. Cullen Memorial Award for Tobacco Research and the Alton Ochsner Award Relating Smoking and Disease. Dr. Lerman serves on the NIDA Advisory Council, and is a former member of the NCI Board of Scientific Advisors and the National Advisory Council for Human Genome Research.

Alexandra E. Shields, Ph.D.

Alexandra. E. Shields, Ph.D. is an associate professor of medicine at the Harvard Medical School, and director of the Harvard/Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Center on Genomics, Vulnerable Populations, and Health Disparities in Boston. Her work addresses the challenges of integrating new genomic medicine and technologies into clinical practice, with a particular focus on the impact of these changes on minority and underserved populations. She has conducted several national surveys addressing the preparedness of primary care physicians to incorporate genomic medicine into practice; access to established genetic tests; and consumer willingness to undergo genetic testing. Dr. Shields also co-directs the Health Disparities Research Program of the Harvard Clinical and Translational Science Center. She is an associate in health policy at Massachusetts General Hospital and associate faculty in Molecular and Population Genetics at the Broad Institute. Prior to joining the Harvard faculty, she was research associate professor in health policy at Georgetown University, where she founded the Georgetown Ethics Research Consortium on Smoking and Genetics.

Sir John Sulston, Ph.D.

Nobel laureate Sir John Sulston, Ph.D., is chair of the Institute for Science, Ethics and Innovation at The University of Manchester in the United Kingdom. He was founding director of the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in 1993, leading a team of several hundred scientists that completed sequencing of one-third of the three-billion-letter human genome - a major contribution to the international Human Genome Project - along with the genomes of many important pathogens, such as the tuberculosis and leprosy bacilli. As the leader of one of the four principal sequencing centers in the world, Dr. Sulston was also instrumental in establishing the principle that the information in the genome should be freely shared. Dr. Sulston studied the worm, C. elegans, for more than two decades, charting the course of the fertilized egg into an adult, identifying genetic mutations that interfere with normal development and mapping and sequencing its genome. In 2002, he shared the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine for his work in understanding the development of the worm and the role of programmed cell death. He is a fellow of the Royal Society.

Robert Waterston, M.D., Ph.D.

Robert Waterston, M.D., Ph.D., is the William H. Gates III Endowed Chair of Biomedical Sciences and chair of the Department of Genome Sciences at the University of Washington, Seattle. He leads research efforts into better understanding the genetic controls underlying development in the worm, C. elegans. Dr. Waterston, then at Washington University in St. Louis, and Sir John Sulston, Ph.D., who later headed the Sanger Centre, were the first to complete the sequence of a multicellular organism when they published the worm genome in 1998. Both labs played key roles in the sequencing of the human genome, with Dr. Waterston's lab contributing more of the finished sequence than any other U.S. laboratory. The partnership subsequently played a leading role in sequencing the mouse and chimpanzee genomes. Dr. Waterston, an advocate for the free release of scientific information, has received many honors for his work, including the Gairdner Award, the General Motors Prize, the Dan David Prize, the George W. Beadle Medal of the Genetics Society of America and the Gruber Foundation Genetics Prize.

Last updated: August 15, 2013