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NHGRI Names new Chief of Genome Technology Branch

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The National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), part of the National Institutes of Health, has named Lawrence C. Brody, Ph.D., as the new chief of its Genome Technology Branch (GTB), the largest of seven branches in the NHGRI Division of Intramural Research. The branch is recognized for developing methods and approaches to advance our understanding about the structure and function of genomes.

"Dr. Brody's exceptional scientific record, technical expertise, leadership credentials and vision for the field are among the many strengths that he brings to his new role as GTB chief," said NHGRI Director Eric Green, M.D., Ph.D. "He steps into an essential position where he will lead a productive and proven group of scientists whose discoveries are fueling the future of genomics." Both Dr. Green and NIH Director Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D., are current members of the branch.

About 100 staff members work in GTB research groups, which are located on the main NIH campus in Bethesda, Md. and in a satellite facility in Rockville, Md. They engage in a wide range of genomic studies, including large-scale genome sequencing, disease gene identification, bioinformatics and developmental genomics. The branch also focuses on developing and improving computational methods for analyzing the complex datasets being generated by whole-genome studies. Together, they are actively studying the genetic contributions to common conditions, such as type 2 diabetes, cancers and neural tube defects, as well as to rare disorders, such as hereditary deafness, progeria and peripheral neuropathies.

Dr. Brody has headed GTB's Molecular Pathogenesis Section, investigating genetic variants that lead to changes in normal metabolic pathways to cause cancer and birth defects. He has made key discoveries regarding the genetics of breast cancer and neural tube defects. For example, the Brody laboratory was among the first to report that women who carry mutations in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes are at a higher risk of developing both breast cancer and ovarian cancer compared to women without such mutations.

In addition, his group was the first to report that the frequency of specific BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations are elevated in the Jewish population. In collaboration with scientists at Howard University, Washington, D.C., he described a series of mutations and rare variants in BRCA1 carried by some African-American women with breast and ovarian cancer.

Dr. Brody also serves as chief scientific officer of the Center for Inherited Disease Research, an NHGRI-affiliated facility operated by Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Md. The center provides genotyping and statistical genetics services for investigators seeking to identify genes that contribute to human disease.

"Genome science benefits from the dynamic and innovative environment that we have created in NHGRI's Genome Technology Branch," said Dr. Brody. "I look forward to identifying new opportunities and meeting the scientific challenges that are part of the rapidly changing face of biology and medicine in the genomic era."

Dr. Brody completed his undergraduate degree in biology at Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pa. He received a Ph.D. in human genetics from Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Md., followed by consecutive postdoctoral fellowships at Johns Hopkins University and then the University of Michigan Medical Center, Ann Arbor.