National Human Genome Research Institute Names First Director of Division of Genomics and Society

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Lawrence C. Brody, PhD

Lawrence C. Brody, PhD, has been selected to be the first Director of the newly established Division of Genomics and Society at the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI). Dr. Brody, a genetics and genomics researcher, is currently Chief of the Genome Technology Branch within NHGRI’s intramural research program, and the Chief Scientific Officer of the trans-NIH Center for Inherited Disease Research.

Dr. Brody’s expertise and interests are wide-ranging, from human genetics and genomics to the public understanding of science. As a bench scientist, he played an instrumental role in early and important discoveries about the BRCA1 gene. His research efforts have regularly included studying the practical implications of genomic advances.

Moreover, on multiple occasions, he worked closely with the U.S. Solicitor General in the drafting and editing of legal briefs and in the preparation of oral arguments for the gene patenting case that went before the U.S. Supreme Court earlier this year.

“Dr. Brody brings an extraordinary and diverse body of accomplishments and expertise to lead this newly created division,” said NHGRI Director Eric D. Green, MD, PhD.  “His perspective as a bench scientist combined with a demonstrated long-term interest in the intersection of science and society makes him uniquely qualified to lead this critical part of NHGRI’s research program.”

“It is an exciting time for genetics and genomics, but with that comes the responsibility to examine and address the many important societal implications of these research advances. With improvements in technology as the driving force, genomics can increasingly be used in clinical settings in a way that was simply not possible a decade ago,” Dr. Brody said. “Because genomics is moving closer to our daily lives, we need to better understand its societal impact. Issues such as consent, privacy, and access to genomic information will continue to grow in importance. We need to increasingly pursue research to understand these issues and to engage relevant stakeholders, including the general public, in the discussions.”

Dr. Brody received a Ph.D. in human genetics from Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore. He was a Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Research Associate from 1990 to 1993 and an HHMI postdoctoral fellow at Johns Hopkins University and the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, during that time. He joined NHGRI in 1993. ■