Debbie Nickerson, a leader of human genome sequencing and its application in precision medicine, has died at the age of 67, according to the University of Washington, where she was a professor in the Department of Genome Sciences.
"Always pushing the existing boundaries with an infectious mix of creativity, vision, impatience, and a wicked sense of humor, Debbie exhorted herself and everyone around her to do more than they thought they could," Francis Collins, former director of the National Institutes of Health, tells UW. "Her imprint on genomic medicine is profound, and she will be sorely missed."
At the time of her death, from abdominal cancer, Nickerson was director of UW's Center for Mendelian Genomics and a principal contributor to the NIH All of Us Research Program. During her career, she published more than 350 original research papers.
She was also a forceful advocate for women in science. "She fought for a culture that would not require women to sacrifice their personal lives to pursue careers in science," UW writes. "In parallel, she advanced the training of young scientists from underrepresented minority backgrounds."
Nickerson, who hailed from Mineola, New York, had been at UW since 1992. "Her former students and postdocs are now a powerful force in human genetics and genomics," the university notes.