SNF Brain Insight Lecture on Precision Medicine at Columbia University

April 12, 2018

NEW YORK – The Stavros Niarchos Foundation Brain Insight Lecture took place on April 10 at Columbia University with Dr. David Goldstein sharing his progress and recent successes in developing targeted treatments that have fundamentally improved the lives of patients living with devastating disease. Entitled “Finding the right medicine one patient at a time,” Dr. Goldstein’s lecture was well-received by those in attendance.

The lecture highlighted the fascinating advances in this targeted type of medicine. Dr. Goldstein noted that technological advancements have helped reduce the cost and the time it takes to sequence the genome of an individual allowing for doctors and teams of experts to help patients discover the cause of certain diseases and to administer treatment sooner when possible.

As Dr. Goldstein noted, the field of genetics and precision medicine is one of the most promising avenues for identifying the underlying causes of disease in individual patients. After many years of halting and intermittent progress, the path to comprehensive gene discovery in a broad range of human diseases is now clear, and these findings are now being used as the starting points for the development of new treatments.

Among the areas Dr. Goldstein discussed were diagnostic sequencing for rare diseases, neurological diseases, kidney diseases, and liver disease. He noted that families play a critical role in the efforts, citing one father’s blog that went viral as he shared his son’s symptoms in order to find others who could be sequenced to find the genetic variation that caused the rare disease.

Steven A. Siegelbaum, PhD- the Gerald D. Fischbach, M.D. Professor of Neuroscience and Professor of Pharmacology; Chair, Department of Neuroscience; and Principal Investigator at Columbia’s Zuckerman Institute, gave the welcoming remarks, thanking the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) for its continuing support. He introduced Dr. Goldstein, noting his many accomplishments.

According to his biography, David Goldstein, PhD, is the John E. Borne Professor of Genetics and Development and Director of the Institute for Genomic Medicine at Columbia University Medical Center. Previously, he was a Professor of Genetics at Duke University and the Director for the Center for Human Genome Variation. He trained in theoretical population genetics at Stanford University. Dr. Goldstein’s primary research interests include human genetic diversity, the genetics of disease, and pharmacogenetics.

The Goldstein group and collaborators have discovered a number of disease causing genes and syndromes, in particular neurological and infectious diseases. Dr. Goldstein was elected a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2013, received the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Institute for Pharmacogenomics and Individualized Therapy award for clinical services in 2012, and was a recipient of one of the first seven nationally awarded Royal Society/Wolfson research merit awards in the United Kingdom for his work in human population genetics.

In 2013, Dr. Goldstein chaired the Gordon Research Conference in Human Genetics, and he is currently serving on the Advisory Council at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke at the National Institutes of Health.

The SNF Brain Insight Lecture series is offered free to the public to enhance understanding of the biology of the mind and the complexity of human behavior. The lectures are hosted by Columbia’s Mortimer B. Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute and supported by the SNF. Among those in attendance were Vasili Tsamis- Chief Operating Officer of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, supporters of Dr. Goldstein’s work, and many students and teachers. A Q&A session followed.

Dr. Goldstein’s lecture concluded the 2017-2018 SNF Brain Insight Lecture Series. Dr. Siegelbaum thanked all those for attending and again thanked the SNF for the continuing support. He invited everyone back for the fall when the Zuckerman Institute will again host another year of intellectually engaging science programming in the SNF Brain Insight Lecture series.


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