|Dr. Leslie Biesecker (top) and Dr. David Bodine are new branch chiefs at NHGRI.
The National Human Genome Research Institute recently named Dr. Leslie G. Biesecker chief of the Genetic Disease Research Branch and Dr. David Bodine chief of the Genetics and Molecular Biology
Branch. Both have been at NIH for 13 years.
Biesecker’s research centers on a range of human developmental syndromes that cause physical
malformations, some of which are caused by rare genetic variations. He identified the genetic
mutation that underlies a devastating brain disorder called microcephaly, which is common among infants in the Old Order Amish community
in Pennsylvania. Because the work found a tie between energy metabolism and brain development,
the findings may shed light on how the human brain develops.
He also is interested in examining the genetic architecture of human disease, including both rare genetic diseases and more common ones such as diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. For both rare and more common diseases,
Biesecker focuses on using newfound genomic
knowledge and tools to improve the care of patients with such disorders.
Bodine studies the genetic mechanisms that underlie the production of blood cells—a complex
series of steps known as hematopoiesis. This process is disrupted in anemia, leukemia and a variety of other disorders. Bodine investigates how certain stem cells, known as pluripotent hematopoietic stem cells that are found mainly in the bone marrow, differentiate into red blood cells and the many different types of white blood cells that circulate in the bloodstream. A major goal of this research is to improve the effectiveness
of bone marrow transplantation. Bodine’s laboratory was among the first to demonstrate the potential of pluripotent hematopoietic stem cells as a vehicle for gene therapy.