Nan Laird, Harvey V. Fineberg Professor of Public Health

Nan Laird, Harvey V. Fineberg Professor of Public Health

A selection of genetic discoveries at HSPH

[Fall 2013 Centennial issue]

The late Armen Tashjian Jr., chair of the then-named Department of Molecular and Cellular Toxicology, made pioneering discoveries about how toxic environmental chemicals and therapeutic agents induce molecular changes; he also played a key role in the development of two drugs for treating and preventing osteoporosis.

John Little, the James Stevens Simmons Professor of Radiobiology, emeritus, demonstrated that ionizing radiation induces malignancies in animals.

Max Essex, chair of the HSPH AIDS Initiative and the Mary Woodard Lasker Professor of Health Sciences, investigated the genetics of cancer-causing retroviruses—a pursuit that ushered in his groundbreaking studies of HIV/AIDS.

David Hunter, dean of academic affairs and the Vincent L. Gregory Professor in Cancer Prevention, and colleagues discovered FGFR2, the most common gene variant associated with breast cancer.

Nan Laird, the Harvey V. Fineberg Professor of Public Health and professor of biostatistics, and Christoph Lange, professor of biostatistics, developed methods for discerning familial patterns of Alzheimer’s disease, asthma, and other diseases.

William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, used whole-genome sequencing to help trace the path of an E. coli outbreak that sickened thousands and killed more than 50 people in Germany and France.

Dyann Wirth, chair of the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases and the Richard Pearson Strong Professor of Infectious Diseases, and Sarah Volkman, principal research scientist in the department, pinpointed sections of the genome of the malaria parasite that may play a role in drug resistance.

Peter Kraft, professor of epidemiology, participated in an international effort that uncovered 74 new genetic markers linked to three common hormonal cancers— breast, prostate, and ovarian—setting the stage for novel treatments and targeted screening.

Madeline Drexler