Jill Mesirov

Jill Mesirov is associate vice chancellor for computational health sciences and professor of medicine at UC San Diego School of Medicine.  As associate vice chancellor, Mesirov is responsible for the overarching strategy for computational health sciences and research computing at UC San Diego School of Medicine.  She is a member of the UCSD Moores Cancer Center, where she serves as co-lead for the structural and functional cancer genomics research program.

Mesirov is a computational scientist who has spent many years working in the area of high-performance computing on problems that arise in science, engineering, and business applications. Her research focuses on cancer genomics applying machine-learning methods to functional data derived from patient tumors. The lab analyzes this molecular data to determine the underlying biological mechanisms of specific tumor subtypes, to stratify patients according to their relative risks of relapse, and to identify candidate compounds for new treatments. In addition, Mesirov is committed to the development of practical, accessible software tools to bring these methods to the general biomedical research community.  Her tools support almost 500,000 users worldwide.

Eric Minikel and Sonia Vallabh

In 2010, Sonia Vallabh watched her 52 year old mother die of a rapid, mysterious, undiagnosed neurodegenerative disease. One year later, Sonia learned that her mother’s disease had been genetic, and that she herself had inherited the causal mutation, making it very likely she would suffer the same fate in 20 years’ time. There was no prevention, treatment, or cure available. Despite having no prior training in biology, Sonia and her husband Eric Minikel set out to re-train themselves as scientists and devote their lives to searching for a treatment or cure for her disease. They quit their jobs in consulting, started a scientific blog, began taking night classes and attending conferences, found new jobs in research labs, and eventually enrolled as PhD students in biology at Harvard Medical School. They are now based at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard where they have launched a new therapeutic initiative to discover drugs for her disease.

Stephen Montgomery

Stephen B. Montgomery is an Associate Professor of Pathology, Genetics and, by courtesy, Computer Science at Stanford University. His laboratory focuses on both functional genomics and bioinformatics approaches to understanding the molecular origins of genetic diseases. Dr. Montgomery has been an active member of multiple large-scale consortia including GTEx and MoTrPAC. His laboratory has developed novel transcriptome-based approaches to identifying impactful rare variants in individuals, families and populations and for measuring gene-by-environment effects.

Susan A. Slaugenhaupt

Dr. Slaugenhaupt is the Scientific Director of the Mass General Research Institute, a strategic initiative that supports the entire research enterprise at MGH to foster and sustain medical innovation.   She is also a Professor in the Department of Neurology at MGH and HMS, and an Investigator in the Center for Genomic Medicine. Dr. Slaugenhaupt’s research focuses on two neurological disorders, familial dysautonomia (FD) and mucolipidosis type IV (MLIV), as well as the common cardiac disorder mitral valve prolapse (MVP). Discoveries in Dr. Slaugenhaupt’s laboratory have led to the successful implementation of critical population screening for FD and MLIV, and to the development of a treatment for FD that directly targets the mRNA splicing mechanism.  Dr. Slaugenhaupt spearheads several programs and educational initiatives at Mass General, including a thriving undergraduate summer internship program. Her Research Institute team works to promote science at Mass General by increasing interactions with industry, by fundraising for Research Institute initiatives, including partnering with individual philanthropists, their families and foundations and by promoting Mass General research to the community through events and social media. She also co-directs the Partners Biobank at Mass General, an exciting initiative that will speed the translation of research discoveries into improved clinical care for patients.  In 2013, Dr. Slaugenhaupt was named the Elizabeth Riley and Dan E. Smith, Jr. MGH Research Scholar. In 2016, she was honored with a prestigious Javits Neuroscience Investigator Award by the National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) at NIH, and in 2016 she was named one of the Top Ten Women to Watch in Science and Technology by the Boston Business Journal.

Heidi L. Rehm

Heidi Rehm, a human geneticist and genomic medicine researcher, is co-director of the Program in Medical and Population Genetics and an institute member at the Broad Institute. She is the chief genomics officer in the Department of Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), working to integrate genomics into medical practice with standardized approaches. She is also a professor of pathology at Harvard Medical School and faculty member of the Center for Genomic Medicine at MGH.

As a board-certified laboratory geneticist and medical director of the Clinical Research Sequencing Platform, she is guiding genomic testing for clinical and clinical research use. She is a leader in defining standards for the interpretation of sequence variants and a principal investigator of a major NIH-funded effort called ClinGen (Clinical Genome Resource), providing free and publicly accessible resources to support the interpretation of genes and variants.

Rehm also co-leads the Broad Center for Mendelian Genomics with Anne O’Donnell-Luria focused on discovering novel rare disease genes and co-leads the Matchmaker Exchange to aid in gene discovery. She is a strong advocate and pioneer of open science and data sharing, working to extend these approaches through her role as a vice chair of the Global Alliance for Genomics and Health. Rehm is also a principal investigator of the Broad-LMM-Color All of Us Genome Center, supporting the sequencing and return of results to a cohort of one million individuals in the U.S. and co-leading gnomAD, the Genome Aggregation Database.

Rehm is a board member of the American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics and the National Library of Medicine. She serves as an editor of the Cold Spring Harbor Molecular Case Studies journal and as an associate editor of the American Journal of Human Genetics. Among Rehm’s honors are the BWH Physician Recognition Award for Clinical Innovation and the Boston Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 Award for Civic Leadership. She was also a member of the team that won the 2012 CLARITY Challenge run by Boston Children’s Hospital and the 2013 Bio-IT World Editors’ Prize for the GeneInsight software system.

Rehm received her B.A. degree in molecular biology and biochemistry from Middlebury College before earning her M.S. in biomedical science from Harvard Medical School and Ph.D. in genetics from Harvard University. She completed her post-doctoral training with David Corey in neurobiology and a fellowship in clinical molecular genetics at Harvard Medical School.

Eric Topol

Eric Topol is the Founder and Director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute (SRTI), Professor, Molecular Medicine, and Executive Vice-President of Scripps Research, As a researcher, he has published over 1200 peer-reviewed articles, with more than 200,000 citations, elected to the National Academy of Medicine, and is one of the top 10 most cited researchers in medicine (Thomson Reuters ISI, “Doctor of the Decade”). His principal scientific focus has been on the genomic and digital tools to individualize medicine—and the power that brings to individuals to drive the future of medicine.

In 2016, Topol was awarded a $207M grant from the NIH to lead a significant part of the Precision Medicine (All of Us) Initiative, a prospective research program that aims to enroll 1 million participants in the US. Prior to coming to lead Scripps SRTI in 2007, for which he is the principal investigator of a flagship $35M NIH CTSA grant, he led the Cleveland Clinic to become the #1 center for heart care and was the founder of a new medical school there. He has been voted as the #1 most Influential physician leader in the United States in a national poll conducted by Modern Healthcare. Besides editing several textbooks, he has published 2 bestseller books on the future of medicine: The Creative Destruction of Medicine and The Patient Will See You Now. His new book Deep Medicine: How Artificial Intelligence Can Make Health Care Human Again, will be published in early 2019.

Alicia Zhou

Dr. Zhou leads Color’s research and scientific affairs team. She is responsible for leading research collaborations with academic institutions, biopharmaceutical companies, and large population initiatives. She is also responsible for managing a team that initiates, executes, and publishes peer-reviewed manuscripts and posters by Color’s scientists and engineers. In addition, Dr. Zhou is an active part of Color’s market development team for population genomics and population research. Dr. Zhou received her Ph.D. at Harvard and performed her postdoctoral work at UCSF with an emphasis on cancer genetics.

Wendy Bickmore

Wendy Bickmore, PhD, is Director of the MRC Human Genetics Unit, Institute of Genetics and Molecular Medicine at the University of Edinburgh. She is fascinated by the structure and organization of chromatin in the nucleus. Her group showed that different human chromosomes have preferred positions in the nucleus, related to their gene content, and addressed how genes are organized and packaged in the nucleus and how they move in the cell cycle and during development. She demonstrated that the polycomb repressive complex functions by compacting higher-order chromatin at target loci. Current research in Wendy Bickmore’s laboratory focuses on how the spatial organization of the nucleus influences genome function in development and disease, including how enhancers communicate with their target gene promoters. Wendy is an EMBO member, a Fellow of the Royal Society and of the Academy of Medical Sciences. She was the president of the Genetics Society of Great Britain from 2015 to 2018. She is an editor on many journals including PLoS Genetics and Cell.

Recent publications:

Therizols P, et al (2014) Chromatin decondensation is sufficient to alter nuclear organization in embryonic stem cells. Science. 346:1238-1242.

Williamson I, et al. (2014) Spatial genome organization: contrasting views from chromosome conformation capture and fluorescence in situ hybridization. Genes Dev. 28:2778-2791.

Illingworth R. et al., (2015) The E3 ubiquitin ligase activity of Ring1B is not essential for early mouse development. Genes Dev. 29:1897-1902.

Pradeepa, M.M. et al. (2016) Histone H3 globular domain acetylation identifies novel enhancers. Nature. Genet. 48: 681-686.

Illingworth, R.S. et al. (2016) Polycomb enables primitive endoderm lineage priming in embryonic stem cells. eLife 5. pii: e14926.

Olley, G. et al. (2018) BRD4 interacts with NIPBL and is mutated in a Cornelia de Lange-like syndrome. Nature Genetics.  doi: 10.1038/s41588-018-0042-y.

Holly Bik

Holly Bik, PhD, works at the interface between biology and computer science, using ecological and evolutionary hypotheses to drive the development and refinement of –Omic approaches focused on marine microbial eukaryotes. Her research interests are focused on free-living nematodes in deep-sea sediments, with an emphasis on “computational taxonomy”, host-associated microbiomes, and environmental drivers of biodiversity for microbial species. Her lab is also leading the development of open source bioinformatics workflows and novel, exploratory software tools such as the Phinch data visualization framework (http://phinch.org). She is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Nematology at the University of California, Riverside with a Research Associate appointment at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC.

John B. Charles

John B. Charles, PhD, retired from NASA on February 22, 2018, as Associate Director of NASA’s Human Research Program (HRP) for Exploration Research Planning, after nearly thirty-three years as a life sciences investigator and manager. From 2012 to 2016, he was Associate Manager for International Science, leading NASA’s space life sciences planning for the joint US/Russian one-year mission on ISS, including the Twins Study. From 2008 to 2012 and again from 2016 until November 2017, he was HRP’s Chief Scientist, assuring a balanced portfolio of funded research to resolve the greatest risks to humans on deep space expeditions.

John earned his B.S. in biophysics at The Ohio State University and his Ph.D. in physiology and biophysics at the University of Kentucky.  He worked at the NASA Johnson Space Center starting in 1983, first as a postdoctoral fellow, then in the civil service. He co-developed the fluid-loading countermeasure to protect Shuttle astronauts from fainting during re-entry and landing, and investigated the cardiovascular effects of space flight using ultrasound, in-flight lower body negative pressure and re-entry data recording on the Shuttle and on the Russian space station Mir.  He coordinated NASA’s biomedical, biological and microgravity investigations as Mission Scientist on Mir, on STS-95 (John Glenn’s Shuttle flight), and on STS-107 (Columbia’s last mission). He also represented the life sciences to NASA’s human Mars mission planning activities in the 1990s.

John is a Fellow of the Aerospace Medical Association (ASMA), of which he has been a member since 1983; he was the 2017-2018 President of its constituent  Space Medicine Association. He is also a Full Member of the International Academy of Astronautics (IAA) and co-chaired the 18th IAA “Humans in Space Symposium” in Houston in 2011.

He has published 75 scientific papers and space history articles and has received several professional awards, including the National Space Club and Foundation’s Eagle Manned Mission Award (2017), the Aerospace Medical Association’s “Joe Kerwin” (2011) and “Hubertus Strughold” (2001) Awards, and NASA’s Silver Snoopy (1989), Exceptional Service Medal (2000), Exceptional Achievement Medal (2014), and Distinguished Service Medal (2018).

John holds Emeritus status in the Human Health and Performance Directorate of NASA’s Johnson Space Center. He is also the first Scientist in Residence at Space Center Houston, the official visitors center for Johnson Space Center, with the goal of enhancing the guest experience by augmenting the human health and performance aspects of exhibits, presentations and demonstrations. He is Adjunct Professor of Kinesiology at Texas A&M University and a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of StemRad Ltd., a company developing personal radiation protection garments for spaceflight. He and his wife Kathy own ACT4space, LLC, a private outreach, education, research, and consulting business.