"Towards the genetics of complex traits: networks, interactions and phenotypes"

Tuesday, November 20, 2012. 2:00 PM @ RRI 101

Speaker: David Galas from Pacific Northwest Diabetes Research Institute in Seattle, Washington

"Towards the genetics of complex traits: networks, interactions and phenotypes"

Biological systems are known to be complex in ways that are not yet fully realized. While we are beginning to construct network models that encompass our knowledge of biological and disease processes many challenges remain. One significant challenge for understanding human disease is to make the connections between these network models and the genetics of the complex traits that are the key to the precise and personalized medicine of the future. This frontier interface has been called “systems genetics.” Networks that describe disease processes necessarily involve the effects of gene-gene interactions and gene-environment interactions. I will discuss our efforts to develop new methods for the analysis of genetic information that allow us to integrate knowledge across this boundary. The significance of being able to do this fully includes: inference of new aspects of network models from genetic data, testing of network models using genetic tools, and the prediction of the phenotypes of complex traits related to disease and health. This understanding also impacts the problem of “missing heredity” in human genetics. I will describe our general approaches using yeast and mouse models, and our progress towards a new “systems genetics.”

Dr. David J. Galas was Professor and chairman of Molecular Biology at the University of Southern California. He was then appointed as Director for Health and Environment Research at the U.S. Department of Energy, where he directed the Human Genome Project. Subsequently Dr. Galas served as President and Chief Scientific Officer of Seattle-based Chiroscience R&D, based on a start-up company he co-founded -Darwin Molecular. Dr. Galas then co-founded the Keck Graduate Institute of Applied Life Sciences at the Claremont colleges, and served as its first Chief Academic Officer and Chancellor. Following his time at Keck he became the Senior Vice President for Strategic Partnerships and Professor at the Institute for Systems Biology, a nonprofit research institute in Seattle, WA. He has recently moved his research program to the Pacific Northwest Diabetes Research Institute.


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