Institute for Systems Biology Appoints Pioneer in Systems Genetics to Leadership Role

Institute for Systems Biology Appoints Pioneer in Systems Genetics to Leadership Role
Joseph Nadeau Named as Director of Research and Academic Affairs

SEATTLE--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Institute for Systems Biology (ISB) announced today that Joseph Nadeau, PhD, an internationally renowned expert in genetics, genomics, bioinformatics and mouse models of human disease, has been appointed to the newly established position of Director of Research and Academic Affairs. He will also serve as Professor and will join ISB on September 1, 2010.

"Genetic approaches to systems biology and medicine are broadening our understanding of both health and disease," stated Leroy Hood, ISB co-founder and President. "Joe has been a pioneer in integrating genetics and systems biology to create a new discipline called systems genetics. By introducing novel strategies, technologies and computational tools, he has transformed how we use genetics to evaluate and modify disease risk. In addition, Joe is also a superb scientific administrator and mentor, which is critical for an emerging scientific institution such as ISB."

As an early proponent of the integration of systems biology and genetics, Nadeau has collaborated with ISB for many years. His scientific expertise, combined with his extensive background in organizational leadership and strategic partnerships, will complement what ISB has achieved over the past decade. ISB will leverage Nadeau's myriad relationships in the world of genetics and his strong record of accomplishment in obtaining major program / project grants. He will play a key role in initiating major cross-disciplinary grant proposals; mentoring junior faculty and senior research fellows; and helping to establish ISB's strategic directions and research priorities.

Systems approaches at ISB are already transforming biologic research. The systems genetics perspective will result in tangible health benefits for society as it will enable scientists to see simultaneously both the big biological picture and the underlying molecular details. The basic insight of systems biology is that the traits of living organisms result not only from interacting genes and molecules, but also from dynamic networks and myriad inputs in which they operate. Systems genetics uses modern genetic strategies together with bioinformatics and computational methods to incorporate genetic variation in models of complex traits and in human disease studies, leading to a greater understanding of our most common and pressing health risks. Combined with advances in genomic, proteomic, and molecular diagnostic information, systems genetics will serve as a window into an individual's health and disease states, and provide the information necessary to more effectively tailor disease management.

"ISB is at the leading edge in tackling significant, difficult and important biomedical research problems by bringing together cross-disciplinary teams in an integrated manner," said Nadeau. "There is an urgent need to discover ways to treat and perhaps even prevent common human diseases. But it is extremely important that we approach this task in a way that not only enables great science, but that also leads to measurable improvements in people's lives. I look forward to joining the faculty, staff and other new colleagues at ISB in their efforts to do just that."

Nadeau's research has focused on fundamental discoveries in experimental models of common human diseases such as cancers, obesity and metabolic diseases. These models are important for identifying disease-related genes, characterizing the physiological and developmental pathways in which these genes function, and defining interactions among these genes and environmental factors. These insights can then be used to guide corresponding clinical studies.

Nadeau is internationally recognized for his many scientific accomplishments. Most recently, he developed the first liver cancer model that closely mimics the disease in humans. He used it to demonstrate not only that long-term exposure to a high fat diet induces a high frequency of liver cancer, but also that a switch from a high fat to a low fat diet during disease progression reverses disease outcome. He has also been at the forefront of studying epigenetics, the non-genetic mechanisms that influence which genes are turned on or off in the body. His research group recently made pioneering discoveries in cancer and obesity where they found that epigenetic states can persist across generations and that traits and diseases in the present generation can result from the action of genetic variants in previous generations.

Nadeau pioneered the harnessing of informatics to better understand and predict genetic interactions. In the late 1980s, he organized and led a group at the Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor, Maine to build the first comprehensive database for the genetics, genomics, and biology of the mouse. In 1992, the Smithsonian deposited a copy of the Mouse Genome Database software in its permanent collection as an example of innovation in information technology. In addition, this year the journal WIREs Systems Biology and Medicine, which Nadeau edits with Shankar Subramaniam, shared the R.R. Hawkins Award from the American Publishers Association for Best Scholarly Work in all disciplines of the Arts and Sciences; their journal is the first e-publication to win this award.

Nadeau joined Case Western Reserve School of Medicine in 1996, and has served as the James H. Jewel Professor and Chair of the Genetics Department since 2003.

"Joe's leadership will not only be a major asset to ISB, but he will add enormous value to our entire research community here in Washington State," said Hood. "For example, he has initiated some very groundbreaking public-private partnerships in Ohio, one of which led to new, more effective and lower cost markers for colon cancer predisposition and detection. He's also been at the forefront of educating the broader scientific community and lay public on the critical importance of genetics and systems thinking."

Alan Aderem will be stepping down as Director in order to accelerate his research efforts on global health issues. "Joe is a terrific scientist and I am delighted that he will assume my administrative duties. One of my major motivations for co-founding ISB was to develop systems biology approaches that I could bring to bear on infectious diseases that plague resource-poor countries. Joe's arrival will allow me to focus on this work using these approaches to create vaccines against these scourges," Aderem said.

Nadeau's appointment continues ISB's trend to increase the depth and breadth of its scientific capabilities. David Galas, PhD, a pioneer in computational biology, joined ISB in 2008 to serve as the Senior Vice President for Strategic Partnerships and Professor. In 2009, Rob Moritz, PhD, a world leader in proteomics, joined ISB to direct new initiatives in the field of mass spectrometry. Additional recruitments are ongoing. ISB plans to double its current faculty size of 12 over the next 10 years - to extend and add new skills to the existing cross-disciplinary group of scientists. The Institute will move to a new facility with twice as much space in Seattle's South Lake Union neighborhood in spring 2011, which will enable the accommodation of additional faculty, researchers and laboratory space.

Institute for Systems Biology

The Institute for Systems Biology (ISB) is an internationally renowned, non-profit research institute headquartered in Seattle and dedicated to the study and application of systems biology. Founded by Leroy Hood, Alan Aderem and Ruedi Aebersold, ISB seeks to unravel the mysteries of human biology and identify strategies for predicting and preventing diseases such as cancer, diabetes and AIDS. ISB's systems approach integrates biology, computation and technological development, enabling scientists to analyze all elements in a biological system rather than one gene or protein at a time. Founded in 2000, the Institute has grown to 13 faculty and more than 280 staff members; an annual budget of nearly $50 million; and an extensive network of academic and industrial partners. The Institute celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, and was recently recognized in the SCImago Report, because ISB research papers had the highest scientific impact in the United States and the third highest in the world, testimony to the accelerating scientific impact of its pioneering systems science. The report analyzed the impact of scientific papers published by 2200 institutions in 84 countries.