From Genes and Genomes to Biology and Health

  • Speaker
  • Richard Lifton, M.D., Ph.D.President, Rockefeller University
    Laboratory of Human Genetics and Genomics, Carson Family Professor
Date & Time

About Simons Foundation Presidential Lectures

Simons Foundation Presidential Lectures are free public colloquia centered on four main themes: Biology, Physics, Mathematics and Computer Science, and Neuroscience and Autism Science. These curated, high-level scientific talks feature leading scientists and mathematicians and are intended to foster discourse and drive discovery among the broader NYC-area research community. We invite anyone interested in the topic to join us for this weekly lecture series.
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Despite considerable effort, the mechanisms underlying many diseases remain unknown, thwarting the development of robust approaches to prevention and treatment. In this setting, unbiased genetic and genomic approaches in humans can establish causal relationships between rare genotypes and traits, identifying specific genes and pathways that may be manipulated for health benefit.

In this lecture, Richard Lifton will discuss his lab’s work using genetics and genomics to systematically identify mutations responsible for extreme forms of common diseases. He and colleagues have explored the contributions of various mutations to a wide range of diseases. This work led to the identification of several hundred new genes in which mutations impart a substantial effect on disease risk. The results suggest that mutation of the vast majority of human genes will have a sizable phenotypic effect, both alone and in combination with specific environmental or genetic interactors. Revealing the roles of these genes will be advanced by the development of large databases that combine complete medical records along with advance measurement of analytes including metabolites and genomic sequence. Understanding the genetic and environmental contributions to health and disease will define the opportunities for advancing human health.

About the Speaker

Lifton is the 11th president of the Rockefeller University, where he also heads the Laboratory of Human Genetics and Genomics. He pioneered the use of genetics and genomics to understand the fundamental mechanisms underlying human diseases. He is well-known for his discovery that mutations that increase salt reabsorption by the kidney cause hypertension, work that has informed public health efforts and therapeutic strategies used worldwide to prevent heart attacks and strokes. Lifton is also known for his development of exome sequencing for clinical diagnosis and disease gene discovery. He graduated from Dartmouth College and obtained his M.D. and Ph.D. from Stanford University. Before joining the Rockefeller University, he was chair of the Department of Genetics at Yale University, where he founded the Yale Center for Genome Analysis. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Medicine and serves on the advisory committee to the NIH director and the scientific advisory board of the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative. He also serves on the board of directors of Genentech and Roche. He has received numerous awards for his research, including the 2014 Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences.

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