IBB Seminar

This seminar is co-hosted by the Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience (IBB) and Georgia Tech's Center for Integrative Genomics (CIG).

"Creating the Fourth Chapter of Human Genomics"

Eric Green, M.D., Ph.D.
Director, National Human Genome Research Institute
National Institutes of Health

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Eric D. Green, M.D., Ph.D., is the director of the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) at the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH). He is the third NHGRI director, having been appointed by NIH director Dr. Francis Collins in 2009.

Dr. Green’s relationship with the Institute began long before his appointment as director. He served as the Institute’s scientific director (2002 - 2009), chief of the NHGRI Genome Technology Branch (1996 - 2009) and founding director of the NIH Intramural Sequencing Center (1997 - 2009). Prior to that, he played an integral role in the Human Genome Project.

Throughout his career, Dr. Green has authored and co-authored over 375 scientific publications.

NHGRI leadership
As NHGRI director, Dr. Green leads the Institute's research programs and other initiatives. Under his guidance, the Institute has completed two major cycles of strategic planning to ensure that its research investments in genomics effectively advance human health. The first effort yielded the highly cited 2011 NHGRI strategic vision, “Charting a course for genomic medicine from base pairs to bedside” (Nature 470:204-213, 2011); the second yielded the 2020 paper ”Strategic vision for improving human health at The Forefront of Genomics” (Nature 586:683-692, 2020).

These two strategic planning processes have guided a major expansion of NHGRI’s research portfolio, highlights of which include the design and launch of major new programs to accelerate the application of genomics to medical care, to catalyze the growth of genomic data science, to continue leading efforts to unravel the functional complexities of the human genome and to enhance the building of a robust and diverse genomics workforce of the future.

With the rapidly expanding scope of genomics research, Dr. Green has also led NHGRI’s close coordination with other NIH components, agencies and organizations.

Dr. Green has played an instrumental leadership role in developing many high-profile efforts relevant to genomics. These efforts include multiple NIH Common Fund Programs — such as the Undiagnosed Diseases Network, Human Heredity and Health in Africa (H3Africa), and the Human Microbiome Project — the Smithsonian-NHGRI exhibition Genome: Unlocking Life's Code, several trans-NIH data science initiatives, the NIH Genomic Data Sharing Policy, and the U.S. Precision Medicine Initiative and NIH All of Us Research Program.

Early life and education
Born and raised in St. Louis, Dr. Green comes from a scientific family. His father, Maurice Green, Ph.D., was a virologist at St. Louis University School of Medicine where he directed the Institute for Molecular Virology for over five decades. His brother, Michael Green, M.D., Ph.D., is a molecular biologist at the University of Massachusetts - Worcester where he serves as chair of the Department of Molecular, Cell and Cancer Biology; vice provost for strategic research initiatives; director of the university’s Cancer Center; and co-director of the Li Weibo Institute for Rare Diseases Research. As a St. Louis native, Dr. Green is a lifelong St. Louis Cardinals baseball fan.

Dr. Green received his B.S. degree in bacteriology from the University of Wisconsin - Madison in 1981, and his M.D. and Ph.D. degrees from Washington University in 1987. Coincidentally, 1987 was the same year that the word “genomics” was coined. During residency training in clinical pathology (laboratory medicine), Dr. Green worked in the laboratory of Dr. Maynard Olson, which is where he launched his career in genomics research. As a physician, he was drawn to genomics because of the potential of using patients’ genomic information for improving their medical care.

In 1992, he was appointed Assistant Professor of Pathology and Genetics as well as a co-investigator in the Human Genome Center at Washington University. In 1994, he joined the newly established Intramural Research Program of the National Center for Human Genome Research, later renamed the National Human Genome Research Institute.

Research contributions
While directing an independent research program for just over two decades, Dr. Green was at the forefront of efforts to map, sequence, and understand mammalian genomes. His work included significant, start-to-finish involvement in the Human Genome Project. These efforts eventually blossomed into a highly productive program in comparative genomics that provided important insights about genome structure, function and evolution. His laboratory also pursued human genetics studies and identified and characterized several human disease genes, including those implicated in certain forms of hereditary deafness, vascular disease and inherited peripheral neuropathy.

Honors and awards
Dr. Green has earned the following honors and awards:

  • Helen Hay Whitney Postdoctoral Research Fellowship (1989 - 1990)
  • Lucille P. Markey Scholar Award in Biomedical Science (1990 - 1994)
  • Induction into the American Society for Clinical Investigation (2002)
  • Induction into the Association of American Physicians (2007)
  • Cotlove Lectureship Award from the Academy of Clinical Laboratory Physicians and Scientists (2011)
  • Wallace H. Coulter Lectureship Award from the American Association for Clinical Chemistry (2012)

 Dr. Green has also been honored extensively as an alumnus. In 2012, his high school gave him the Ladue Horton Watkins High School Distinguished Alumni Award. In 2017, his undergraduate university honored him for his role in the Human Genome Project through a feature in the University of Wisconsin Alumni Park. He has received three awards from his medical and graduate school, Washington University: the School of Medicine Alumni Achievement Award in 2005, the Distinguished Alumni Award in 2010, and an honorary Doctor of Science degree in 2018.

Dr. Green is a founding editor of the journal Genome Research (1995 - present) and a series editor of Genome Analysis: A Laboratory Manual (1994 - 1998), both published by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press. He is also co-editor of Annual Review of Genomics and Human Genetics (since 2005).