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Vol. LXIII, No. 20
September 30, 2011

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Altman To Give Stetten Lecture, Oct. 12
Dr. Russ B. Altman

As whole-genome sequencing is becoming more available and affordable, the promise of using genetic information to personalize drug prescribing is moving closer to reality. Dr. Russ B. Altman, a computational biologist at Stanford University, will discuss his work in pharmacogenomics, the study of how human genetic variation impacts drug response, during this yearís DeWitt Stetten, Jr. Lecture. The talk, ďThe Emerging Network of Data for Understanding the Interactions of Genes and Drugs,Ē is part of the NIH Directorís Wednesday Afternoon Lecture Series and is sponsored by NIGMS. It will be held on Wednesday, Oct. 12 at 3 p.m. in Masur Auditorium, Bldg. 10.

In 2010, Altman and his research team conducted the first integrated clinical assessment of an individual patientís whole genome. The analysis revealed genetic variants associated with cardiovascular disease risk and others known to modulate response to drug therapy. Key to the work was the NIH Pharmacogenomics Knowledge Base, an online database about gene-drug-disease relationships that Altman directs.

In another recent study, Altmanís team mined adverse event reporting data and electronic medical records and found that two commonly prescribed drugs, the antidepressant Paxil and the cholesterol-lowering medication Pravachol, can have a potentially dangerous side effect when taken together. In addition, he has developed a computer algorithm to enhance pharmacogenomics knowledge by extracting commonly occurring relationships between key entities like genes, drugs and phenotypes from 17 million scientific abstracts. Altmanís work also focuses on the analysis of functional sites within macromolecules to understand drug actions, interactions and adverse events.

Altman is chair of the department of bioengineering at Stanford. He is also a professor in the universityís departments of medicine and genetics and holds a courtesy appointment in the department of computer science. Altman earned an A.B. in biochemistry and molecular biology from Harvard College in 1983, a Ph.D. in medical information sciences from Stanford in 1989 and an M.D. from Stanford in 1990.

Altmanís honors include a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers and election to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies. He leads the NIH-funded National Center for Biomedical Computation at Stanford (Simbios), which focuses on physics-based simulation of biological structures.

For more information or for reasonable accommodation at the lecture, contact Sarah Herrmann at or (301) 594-6747. NIHRecord Icon

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