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NHGRI Adds New Directors As Sequencing Winds Down

NEW YORK, Nov. 19-The National Human Genome Research Institute today formally announced a suite of new research directors to guide the institute's transition as it finishes sequencing the human genome.


Last week, Eric Green was appointed the new scientific director of the NHGRI Division of Intramural Research. Green, 42, has been at NHGRI since 1994. He was appointed chief of the institute's Genome Technology in 1996, and founded the National Institutes of Health Intramural Sequencing Center in 1997.


As director of the $80 million, 400-staff intramural research program, Green plans to promote genomics in clinical research, expand computational biology and bioinformatics, and improve high-throughput life sciences techniques.


Green got his M.D. and Ph.D. from Washington University in 1987. After a residence in clinical pathology, he was appointed assistant professor in Pathology and Genetics at Washington University School of Medicine.


He replaces Jeffrey Trent, who left NHGRI at the end of Octoberto lead the Translational Genomics Research Institute in Phoenix, Ariz.


NHGRI said that in September, Mark Guyer was named director of the division of extramural research. Guyer was previously the assistant director for scientific coordination in the division, where he oversaw planning and budgeting for the Human Genome Project. He also led the division's Large-Scale Sequencing Program.


Guyer will be joined by associate directors Jane Peterson and Bettie Graham.


Graham has been with the division as a program director since 1989. She will direct the NHGRI Minority Action Plan, an effort to increase minority involvement in the institute's Ethical, Legal and Social Implications division. She will be involved in the trans-NIH Mouse initiative and oversee the Training and Career Development program and the Small Business Innovation Research and technology transfer programs.


Peterson, who previously directed the large-scale sequencing program at NHGRI, will advise Guyer on extramural policy issues and on new research initiatives for grants, contracts and cooperative agreements.  She will direct the NHGRI program in comparative sequencing, administer cooperative agreements with large-scale DNA sequencing centers, and coordinate the Genome Resource and Sequencing Priority Panel.


These three positions are new to the institute.


NHGRI also named William Gahl its intramural clinical director earlier this fall. Gahl, 52, will lead the institute's expanding efforts to apply genomic knowledge to clinical medicine and will also lead a joint research program with the NIH Office of Rare Diseases. His office directs the institute's training programs for genetic counselors and medical geneticists and oversees the NHGRI Institutional Review Board.


Gahl received his MD from the University of Wisconsin Medical School in 1976, and his PhD from the University of Wisconsin Graduate School in 1981. He joined NIH in 1981 as a medical staff fellow, later becoming chief of the Human Genetics Branch of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Most recently, he was chief of the Section on Human Biochemical Genetics in the Heritable Disorders Branch of the NICHD.


His research includes work on the genetics and treatment of Hermansky-Pudlak syndrome, evaluation of drug therapy for alkaptonuria, and the biochemistry of sialic metabolism.


In addition, the NHGRI's director's office brought on Christopher Austin as senior advisor to the director for translational research and Jean Jenkins as senior clinical advisor. Austin will expand relationships between NHGRI and industry. He was previously director of genomic neuroscience at Merck, involved in the pharmaceutical company's pharmacogenomics program. Jenkins, the nurse clinical specialist consultant in cancer genetics at the National Cancer Institute, will work to educate health professionals and the public about genetic medicine.


NHGRI is currently in the midst of a year-long planning processto reconfigure its research priorities as the human genome project winds down.

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