Melina Claussnitzer is an institute member at the Broad Institute, and an assistant professor at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School (HMS). She also co-directs the Type 2 Diabetes Systems Genomics Initiative at the Broad, and serves as the associate director of scientific strategy for the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Genomic Mechanisms of Disease at the Broad. Her lab focuses on the conversion of disease-associated genetic variants to function (V2F) and, more specifically, on the dissection of the genetic basis of type 2 diabetes and its comorbidities into actionable therapeutics. This focus requires a concerted, systematic effort to interpret non-coding genetic variation and to understand how it contributes to phenotypic variation in the context of the complete cellular machinery. Claussnitzer’s research program therefore spans a diversity of areas in the field of disease genomics, and involves a hierarchical experimental and computational framework to discover pathophysiological targets underlying the genetic risk of metabolic disease phenotypes.
Claussnitzer’s thesis work focused on the computational and experimental foundations of genome-wide association study (GWAS) locus dissection and its application to the conversion of type 2 diabetes risk loci into disease mechanisms. She pioneered new computational and experimental methods for converting genomic regions associated with complex diseases and traits in humans into functions using multiple species comparisons and large-scale epigenomic and transcriptomic data sets, as well as CRISPR-Cas9 mediated variant editing. Her lab applies those methods to mechanistically dissect metabolic risk loci across diverse phenotypic scales.
Claussnitzer earned her “Vordiplom” (equivalent of B.Sc.) in mathematics and nutritional sciences and her “Diplom” (equivalent of M.Sc.) in molecular biology and nutritional sciences from the University of Hohenheim, Germany, where she now holds a faculty position. She earned her Ph.D. in genetics of complex diseases from the Technical University of Munich, Germany.