David Haussler, Scientific Director, UC Santa Cruz Genomics Institute

David Haussler Scientific Director (Bio)

A distinguished professor of biomolecular engineering, David Haussler has led UC Santa Cruz to global prominence in genomics. His UC Santa Cruz research team assembled and posted the first working draft of the genome on the Internet on July 7, 2000, thereby ensuring the human genome would exist forever in the public domain. In the past decade, research based on the genome has increased exponentially, due in large part to the UCSC Genome Browser. Our deep experience in data visualization and analysis makes the database not just a storehouse of information, but a dynamic tool and gateway for scientific discovery. In 2012 the National Cancer Institute selected UCSC to house the data for its genomic programs. The resulting UC Santa Cruz Cancer Genomics Hub is the first Trusted Partner of the NIH for distributing patient genomics data that require restricted access due to privacy concerns. Oncologists and researchers quickly seized on the hub to identify commonalities in cancers, visualize data, and test theories. He co-founded the Genome 10K project so science can learn from other vertebrate genomes, co-founded the Treehouse Cancer Initiative to enable international comparison of childhood cancer genomes, and co-founded the Global Alliance for Genomics and Health (GA4GH), through which research, health care, and disease advocacy organizations have taken the first steps to standardize and enable secure sharing of genomic and clinical data. He co-chairs the GA4GH Data Working Group. David shares the 2015 Dan David Prize.

Ravi Jain Managing Director

As managing director of the UC Santa Cruz Genomics Institute, Ravi Jain oversees the institute's strategic planning, business development, and operations, among other responsibilities. Charged with further developing and growing the genomics institute, Ravi will lead the institute in taking on the many challenges associated with coordinating, analyzing, and making available the volumes of sequencing data and related clinical information generated by genomic projects from around the world. Jain came to UC Santa Cruz after serving as president and CEO of cBio, a software development and bioinformatics consulting firm he co-founded. He holds a Ph.D. in molecular evolution from UCLA, with a focus on bioinformatics.

Josh Stuart, Associate Director of Cancer and Stem Cell Genomics, UC Santa Cruz Genomics Institute

Josh Stuart Director of Cancer and Stem Cell Genomics

A professor of biomolecular engineering at UC Santa Cruz, Josh Stuart applies his background in machine learning to large data sets and develops computational models capable of integrating multiple sources of molecular biology information. His lab develops algorithms to predict the effect of mutations in cancer cells and charts the affected pathways to find targets for drugs that kill cancer cells and not normal cells. Insights from this work could translate into a new arsenal of tools for doctors to bring to the bedside. Josh co-leads a genome data analysis center for the Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) project, leads the TCGA’s pan-cancer effort, co-chairs the International Cancer Genome Consortium’s pan-cancer project, and directs the computational pathway analysis for a Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C) Dream Team to identify therapies for treatment-resistant prostate cancer. In addition to applying his expertise to cancer genomics, Josh is in charge of organizing and analyzing datasets collected as part of California’s new Stem Cell Genome Center of Excellence. Josh received his Ph.D. from Stanford University in 2004. He received the 2006 Kalpana Chawla Outstanding Recent Alumni Award from the University of Colorado at Boulder, is an Alfred P. Sloan Fellow, and received an NSF CAREER award in 2009.

Beth Shapiro, Associate Director of Evolutionary Genomics, UC Santa Cruz Genomics Institute. Photo by Kris Krüg

Beth Shapiro Director of Evolutionary Genomics

An associate professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at UC Santa Cruz, Beth Shapiro specializes in the genetics of ice age animals and plants. A pioneer in the young field called “ancient DNA,” Beth travels extensively in the Arctic regions of Alaska, Siberia, and Canada collecting bones and other remains of long-dead creatures including mammoths, giant bears, and extinct camels and horses. She uses DNA sequences extracted from these remains to better understand how the distribution and abundance of species changed in response to major climate changes in the past, and why some species go extinct while others persist. The results could be used to help develop strategies for the conservation of species currently under threat from climate change. Beth has been widely honored for her research, including being named a National Geographic Emerging Explorer, Searle Scholar, Packard Fellow, and MacArthur Fellow.

Jim Kent

Jim Kent Director, UCSC Genome Browser Project

Jim Kent directs the UCSC Genome Browser project. The project started in 2000 when he created the computer program that assembled the first working draft of the human genome sequence from information produced by sequencing centers worldwide and then participated in  the informatics associated with the finishing effort. His team participates in the public consortium efforts to produce, assemble, and annotate genomes.

Benedict Paten Director of Comparative Genomics

Benedict Paten Assistant Director of Comparative Genomics, UC Santa Cruz Genomics Institute.

Benedict Paten directs the UC Santa Cruz Center for Big Data in Translation Genomics, established to develop standard, globally accepted Internet protocols for efficiently handling genomic data and ultimately extend them to clinical practice. Benedict focuses on all aspects of genome comparison, both between and within species. He is passionate about the reconstruction of our shared evolutionary history, and particular the evolutionary history of vertebrates. He was a principal organizer of the Assemblathon and Alignathon competitions designed to improve the state of the art in genome assembly and alignment. He co-chairs a task team of the data working group of the Global Alliance for Genomics and Health that is establishing new standards for the representation of genome variation.

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