"We are translating advances in human genetics to many areas of drug development, including target and biomarker discovery."
After 20 years in academia seeing patients, teaching and studying the genetics of autoimmunity, I moved to Genentech in 2006. Early on, I worked in early clinical development assisting in the design and execution of phase I and II clinical trials. I also started assembling a biomarker discovery group for our Immunology, Infectious Diseases, Metabolic, and Neuroscience therapeutic areas.
In the last few years, I have spent most of my effort in building our human genetics capacity. We have been collecting DNA on our clinical trial subjects for many years, and now, with the cost of genome sequencing reaching reasonable levels, we have begun to apply this technology broadly to many diseases of interest.
What I love about Genentech is the collaborative nature of the work environment – everyone is on the same, very large and effective team. When you get this many talented people all working together, the stage is set for real progress in treating patients.
I have mentored many Ph.D. students and postdoctoral fellows over the last 25 years, and enjoy the challenge of helping new postdocs identify great projects, and then more or less stay out of their way as they push their science forward. Postdocs at Genentech are in the enviable position of having access to multiple core facilities and generous funding to perform their research. We aim to develop young scientists to a point where they are fully independent and have many options for their future work, including academic posts.
Science, 350:455-9, 2015.
My laboratory has long been interested in the genetics and genomics of autoimmunity. We were the first group to identify a type I interferon gene signature in the blood cells of patients with systemic lupus erythematosus. This finding helped to focus research on understanding the role of type I interferon in autoimmune disease. Our group is also interested in the primary human genetics of autoimmunity, and we’ve been active in identifying genetic factors that contribute to risk for lupus and other diseases. More recently, we’ve been working to understand how specific risk genes for autoimmunity contribute to disease pathogenesis. Additional studies are probing the mechanisms that lead to pathogenic autoantibody production to self-proteins in human lupus.