News and Events
This annual lectureship honors James V. Neel, M.D., Ph.D., a pioneer in the study of human genetics and one of the first to foresee its importance in the diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. During his 39-year career in the U-M Medical School, Neel established one of the first clinics to evaluate and counsel people with hereditary diseases. In 1956, Neel established the first academic department of human genetics in the United States at the University of Michigan Medical School, which he chaired for 25 years. The Neel Lectureship features an international leader in research who shares their experiences and underscores the importance of research in genetics. The annual event also includes the presentation of the James V. Neel Award, which recognizes the outstanding academic and research achievements of Human Genetics Ph.D. and Genetic Counseling Master's students.
Richard P Lifton, MD, Ph.D., Chair of the Department of Genetics at Yale University, will give the fourteenth James V. Neel lecture in Human Genetics at the University of Michigan on Friday, May 12, 2014, at 3pm and will take place at the A. Alfred Taubman Biomedical Science Research Building, in the D. Dan & Betty Kahn Auditorium, located at 109 Zina Pitcher Place, on the University of Michigan medical campus. A reception and poster session will follow the lecture.
Richard P Lifton MD, PhD
Sterling Professor of Genetics and Professor of Medicine (Nephrology)
Chair, Department of Genetics, Yale University School of Medicine
Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Richard Lifton is also the director of the Yale Center for Human Genetics and Genomics.
Dr. Lifton earned his B.A. in biological sciences from Dartmouth College and in 1986 he got his M.D. and Ph.D. in biochemistry from Stanford University. He trained at Brigham and Women's Hospital before starting his lab at Yale in 1993. He uses genetic approaches to identify the genes and pathways that contribute to common human diseases, including cardiovascular, renal, and bone disease.
He has been awarded the Wiley Prize in Biomedical Sciences for his discovery of genes that are associated with the regulation of blood pressure. In 2014, Dr. Lifton was awarded the $3 million Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences for his work. He has been a Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) investigator since 1994. He was inducted into the National Academy of Science, Institute of Medicine, and is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
AAAS Council Elects New AAAS Fellows
"Meeting Global Challenges: Discovery and Innovation" is the theme for the 2014 AAAS Annual Meeting but it also describes the achievements of the new AAAS Fellows.
Diane Robins, Professor of Human Genetics and Research Scientist for Reproductive Sciences Program, is among the 388 newly-elected AAAS Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, along with seven other University of Michigan scientists and engineers recognized by their peers for their efforts to advance science or its applications.
Dr. Robins is honored for distinguished research contributions in the fields of molecular endocrinology and cancer genetics, including insights into androgen receptor function, as well as for outstanding leadership in graduate education and for service to scientific organizations.
The new AAAS Fellows, whose names were published in the 29 November issue of Science, will be honored at the AAAS Fellows Forum on Saturday, February 15 during the AAAS Annual Meeting in Chicago, where they will receive a certificate and a blue and gold rosette as a symbol of their distinguished accomplishments.
Founded in 1848, AAAS is the world's largest general scientific society and publisher of the journal Science. The tradition of AAAS fellows began in 1874. Members can be considered for the rank of fellow if nominated by steering groups of the association's 24 sections, by any three fellows who are current AAAS members, or by the association's chief executive officer. The AAAS policy making council votes on the final list.
In 2012, U-M led the nation with 19 scientists and engineers elected as AAAS fellows. Congratulations to Diane Robins on this outstanding award.
"It is fitting that David E. Rogers, this award’s namesake, was an inspiration for Gilbert S. Omenn, M.D. Ph.D. Over five decades, “Dr. Omenn has made fundamental basic scientific contributions, led major public health studies and initiatives, championed the role of academic medical centers, and played a key role in forming health policy for our nation, says David Ginsburg, M.D., his University of Michigan (U-M) Medical School colleague.
Dr. Omenn has been professor of internal medicine, human genetics, and public health at U-M since 1997. He also directs the university-wide Center for Computational Medicine and Bioinformatics, founded in 2005, and leads the global Human Proteome Project. From 1997 to 2002, Dr. Omenn was CEO of the U-M Health System and executive vice president for medical affairs. He led the integration of the medical school, hospitals and health centers, and M-Care HMO to create an academically strong, patient-centered, financially stable U-M Health System.
A leader on the national stage, Dr. Omenn has held high-level government appointments during the administrations of Presidents Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Clinton, and Obama. “In the mid-1990s, he chaired the Presidential/Congressional Commission on Risk Assessment and Risk Management, called the ‘Omenn Commission,’ with an enormous impact on the work of regulatory and public health agencies,” says Dr. Ginsburg. In 2004, Dr. Omenn received the John W. Gardner Legacy of Leadership Award from the White House Fellows Association.
Dr. Omenn has served on advisory boards for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Academies, the IOM, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and The Hastings Center. Dr. Omenn conducted extensive research on proteins at Princeton University, Harvard Medical School, and the NIH. As a fourth-year medical student, he reported in the New England Journal of Medicine a kindred with reticuloendotheliosis, later named Omenn syndrome. He launched his faculty career in medical genetics in 1971 at the University of Washington (UW). Dr. Omenn was the founding director of the UW Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars Program, through which he interacted with Dr. Rogers. He was simultaneously a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator.
By 1979, Dr. Omenn was professor of medicine. He served as dean of the UW School of Public Health and Community Medicine from 1982 to 1997, created the UW-wide Institute on Public Health Genetics, and was principal investigator for the beta-Carotene and Retinol Efficacy Trial (CARET) against lung cancers in high-risk populations.
Dr. Omenn received his A.B. degree from Princeton University, M.D. degree from Harvard Medical School, and Ph.D. in genetics from the University of Washington.,"
" A global hunt for genes that influence heart disease risk has uncovered 157 changes in human DNA that alter the levels of cholesterol and other blood fats – a discovery that could lead to new medications.
The huge scan of genetic variations linked to blood lipid levels used an advanced device called a Metabochip. Each of the changes points to genes that can modify levels of cholesterol and other blood fats and are potential drug targets. Many of the changes point to genes not previously linked to blood fats, also called lipids. A surprising number of the variations were also associated with coronary artery disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and high blood pressure.
The research also reveals that triglycerides – another type of blood lipid – play a larger role in heart disease risk than previously thought.
The results, published in a paper and a letter appearing simultaneously in the journal Nature Genetics, come from the Global Lipids Genetics Consortium -- a worldwide team of scientists who pooled genetic and clinical information from more than 188,000 people from many countries and heritages.
The analysis of the combined data was led by a team from the University of Michigan Medical School and School of Public Health. They used sophisticated computing and statistical techniques to search for genetic variations that modify blood lipid levels.
The results increase by more than a third the total number of genetic variants linked to blood lipids. All but one of the variants associated with blood lipids are near stretches of DNA that encode proteins.
“These results give us 62 new clues about lipid biology, and more places to look than we had before,” says Cristen Willer, Ph.D., the lead author of one paper and an assistant professor of Internal Medicine, Human Genetics and Computational Medicine & Bioinformatics at the U-M Medical School. “Once we take the time to truly understand these clues, we’ll have a better understanding of lipid biology and cardiovascular disease -- and potentially new targets for treatment.”
But, cautions senior author and U-M School of Public Health Professor Gonçalo Abecasis, Ph.D., it will take much further work to study the implicated genes and to find and test potential drugs that could target them. The consortium’s “open science” approach will include publishing further detail online for other researchers to use freely toward this goal.
A further analysis of the dataset, published as a letter with lead author Ron Do, Ph.D. and senior author Sekar Kathiresan, M.D. from the Broad Institute and Massachusetts General Hospital, suggests triglyceride levels have more impact on coronary artery disease risk than previously thought."