Pioneer in genome sequencing joining Huntsville research institute

Pioneer in genome sequencing joining Huntsville research institute

From HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology:

HUNTSVILLE, AL - HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology, a nonprofit research institute focusing on research-driven discovery, education, and economic development to improve human health, Thursday announced the appointment of renowned clinical genomics expert Howard Jacob, Ph.D., as Executive Vice President for Medical Genomics and Chief Medical Genomics Officer. Jacob's 25 years of genetic sequencing experience bolsters HudsonAlpha's roster of expert researchers and supports the Institute's mission to bridge laboratory discoveries to medical improvements for patients. Jacob brings specific expertise in using clinical genomics to discover undiagnosed disorders.

"I am very pleased to be joining HudsonAlpha's strong faculty of genomics researchers to advance the Institute's mission of creating a healthier, more sustainable world through genomics," said Jacob. "I believe strongly in the work HudsonAlpha has done and see great potential to harness the technology and expertise within the Institute to deliver better treatments and more preventative medicines for patients."

Jacob added, "One of my goals at HudsonAlpha will be to establish a scalable whole genome sequencing process that will allow doctors to use the technology for the millions of patients it could benefit. My team and I have reduced the genome sequencing interpretation process time from two weeks to four hours, and eventually we want to analyze and interpret a whole human genome sequence in 10 minutes or less to make the technology truly scalable."

According to Richard M. Myers, Ph.D., HudsonAlpha's president and science director, "Our CLIA-certified Genomic Services Lab, headed by Shawn Levy, Ph.D., is an established leader in ultra-high-throughput genetic sequencing. Since its founding in 2009, the GSL has supported more than 2,100 projects and sequenced more than 100,000 samples, improving the lives of patients and providing diagnoses that have led to better, more accurate care. We expect Howard's world-renowned expertise will boost HudsonAlpha's ability to turn laboratory discoveries into real-world medical improvements for patients."

Jacob brings a core team with him to HudsonAlpha. Working together, this team was the first in the world to use genomic sequencing to save a child's life. Efforts to diagnose the child's life-threatening disorder based on his symptoms had failed. Using genomic analysis, they identified a single gene mutation that led to the disease diagnosis and a successful course of treatment. The team went on to contribute to the diagnosis of several other genetic diseases by sequencing more than 500 children's genomes.

"Howard Jacob is an established leader, and I am honored to welcome him to the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology and the state of Alabama," Gov. Robert Bentley said. "Since its launch, HudsonAlpha has proven to be one of the best research institutions in Alabama. The clinical genomics initiatives will continue to propel HudsonAlpha forward to treat some of the most debilitating diseases."

"HudsonAlpha has always been dedicated to developing the talent and technology that make genomic advances possible," said HudsonAlpha co-founder James R. Hudson Jr. "Adding Howard and his team to our impressive group of genomics experts and GSL capabilities speaks to our commitment to creating an unprecedented synergy that we believe will help define the future of genomic medicine, not only in Alabama, but globally."