HGP10: Translating Pharmacogenetics Research to Practice (Introduction) – Eric Green

Eric Green: Well, good morning, everyone. I’m Eric Green, Director of the National Human Genome Research Institute, and I want to welcome all of you to the last of the series of special events for 2013. With 2013 being a celebratory year for genomics, celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Watson-Crick discovery of the double-helical structure of DNA, and also celebrating 10th anniversary of the completion of the Human Genome Project. And as many of you know, NHGRI had a series of events to commemorate the importance of this year.

And included in that were a series of what we called paired seminars or paired talks that have occurred over the last few months, and in addition to a day-long symposium. And this — today is the last day of those paired talks. But before I introduce the speakers, I do want to point out that — well, these rather special events we had here. The other major development in 2013 commemorating this special year is the opening of this exhibition at the National Museum of Natural History that represents a partnership between NHGRI and the Smithsonian Institution. And that exhibition, which is entitled “Genome: Unlocking Life’s Code,” will open in mid-June. And I want to invite all of you to please come to it, and all the people that will watch this on video, to remind them that it will be at the Smithsonian’s Natural Museum of — National Museum of Natural History for a little over a year starting in mid-June, and then it will tour North America for four years. And it’s going to well be worth seeing, so please make sure you take it in.

If you want to know where it is at the Museum, it is in Hall 23; 23 human pairs of chromosomes, easy to be remember. Also — or if you just find your way to the Hope Diamond, the number one most visited exhibition at the Museum, go to the Hope Diamond and take a left, and then it’s immediately next to it. It’s going to be really easy to remember in any case. So that’s coming up in June. But today the focus is on our last two speakers in this series, which, in many ways, as you will see, I think very much nicely highlight the broad scope of genomics research.

The one other antidote before I introduce the two speakers, the reason they were selected, and this topical area was selected, was to interdigitate our 2013 celebratory year, for the reasons I’ve already told you, with the beginning of a set of events that will commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Social and Behavioral Research Branch that’s here in our intramural research program, something that was create about a decade ago when I was actually the scientific director of the Institute and recruited Colleen McBride to come join the Institute as one of our intramural branch chiefs. And she created this new Social/Behavioral Research Branch, and they’re beginning their celebration. NHGRI just loves to commemorate and celebrate. It’s just — it’s in our DNA.

We just love it. So that’s why these two speakers were selected in particular for today. It’s a fitting way to end our part of this 2013 celebration related to the Human Genome Project, and Watson and Crick, and so forth. So let me tell about our two speakers, and the way we’ve done these is each speaker, then, will give their presentation, and then we’ll have discussion, question/answers to both of them together. So the first speaker is Dr. Caryn Lerman, who 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 the Center for Interdisciplinary Research on Nicotine Addiction at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Lerman also serves as deputy director of the Abramson Cancer Center at the University of Pennsylvania, and she is a past president of the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco. Dr. Lerman received her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Southern California, after which she pursued an internship in the Clinical Medical — in Clinical Medical Psychology at Boston Veterans Administration Medical Center. She is an elected member of The Institute of Medicine.

And among her numerous other honors, she has received the American Psychological Association award for Outstanding Contributions to Health Psychology; the American Society for Preventive Oncology Joseph Cullen Award for Tobacco Research; the Ochsner — Alton Ochsner Award for Research Relating to Smoking and Health; the American Cancer Society Cancer Control Award; and the William Osler Patient-Oriented Research Award. She served on the NCI Board of Scientific Advisors, and also the NHGRI National Advisory Council for Human Genome Research, and is a current member of the National Institute on Drug Abuse Advisory Council. Dr. Lerman’s research focuses on the genetic and neural substrates of nicotine addiction phenotypes, with a focus on smoking cessation and therapeutic response. I would also point out, from a NHGRI prospective, that she was involved in one of the first ELSI Consortia, Ethical, Legal Social Implications Research Consortia, dealing with the implications of BRCA1 testing, and was a major voice for the importance of behavioral and social science research in this area.

Our second speaker is Dr. Alexander Shields, and she is the director of the Harvard Massachusetts General Hospital Center on Genomics, Vulnerable Populations, and Health Disparities. She is also associate professor of Medicine at the Harvard Medical School; associate professor of Health Care Policy at Massachusetts General Hospital; and associate faculty in Molecular and Population Genetics at the Broad Institute. Dr. Shields co-directs the Health Disparities Research Program of the Harvard Clinical and Translational Science Center; is an Executive Committee member of the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center’s Reduction of Cancer Risk and Disparities Program; and serves as — on advisory boards of several NIH and university-based research initiatives addressing genomics and health disparities. Dr. Shields received her Ph.D. in Health Policy from Brandeis University, where she was a Pew Health Policy Scholar. She also received her BA and MA in Systematic Theology from Boston College.

Dr. Shields’ research addresses the challenges of clinical integration of new genomic medicine and technologies in the 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 more generally, access to establish genetic tests at safety net provider sites, and consumers’ willingness to undergo genetic testing. Dr. Shields also studies important ethical aspects of genomics research design, including the use of race constructs in genomics research, and the inclusion of environmental measures most important to understanding health disparities in gene-environment interaction studies.

So, as you can see, we have two stellar speakers to teach us about these important areas to wrap this series of lectures. So I think we’ll start, and ask Dr. Lerman to please come to the podium, and welcome her. Thank you. [applause].