Noted Genetics Researcher and Entrepreneur David Margulies to Discuss “Precision Medical Care” at Amherst College April 22

Submitted on Wednesday, 4/3/2013, at 10:56 AM

April 3, 2013

AMHERST, Mass. — David M. Margulies, M.D., executive director of the Gene Partnership at Children’s Hospital in Boston (CHB) and a member of the faculties of the Division of Developmental Medicine, the Center for Biomedical Informatics and the Division of Genomics at the Harvard Medical School, will deliver the 2013 Amherst College Croxton Lecture titled “Towards Precision Care” on Monday, April 22 in room 4 of Merrill Science Center at 7:30 p.m. The lecture is free and open to the public. 

Former New York governor Mario Cuomo; Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Tony Kushner; and Stephen Jay Gould, professor of geology at Harvard University are among Amherst’s past Croxton Lecturers.

Soon it will be practical to study an individual’s DNA and RNA in order to characterize disease and plan treatment with much greater accuracy than is now possible. Functional genomics and bioinformatics are now being used to define the underlying biologic mechanisms that give rise to common illnesses and phenotypes. In the not-too-distant future, we will routinely grow specific tissues from a small snippet of skin and evaluate the effect of drugs, small molecules and other bioactive substances on this tissue as a part of planning to treat a person’s illness.  Margulies’s talk will describe some of the science and technology that is leading us toward the era of “precision care.” The lecture will hold particular interest for those contemplating a career in medicine, the biosciences, or biotechnology, or those who acknowledge the possibility of needing effective treatment for a serious illness in the decades to come.

“We have begun to see the promise of the human genome sequence in its applications to human health, and through the approaches articulated and motivated by Dr. Margulies, that promise will be achieved,” noted Michael Hood, associate professor of biology at Amherst. “It is difficult to imagine more valuable knowledge in the application of medicine than how individuals vary in response particular treatments or are predisposed to disease risk. The rapid mining of personal genomics data is clearly the future for realizing this important predictive information.”

While on campus, Margulies will meet with Amherst students and faculty, participate in the Department of Biology’s seminar and deliver the public lecture. In that talk, he will describe how the study of the genome and transcriptome will enhance the understanding of disease mechanisms, aid in the discovery of new therapeutics and optimize individualized treatments. Margulies has spent much of the past 30 years involved in clinical computing and medical genomics in both commercial and academic settings.

In his current role, Margulies is leading a large-scale effort to accelerate the adoption of genomic measurements in research and patient care at Children’s Hospital. His interest in these technologies is based on his desire to apply these tools to help attain a better understanding of the mechanisms underlying neurodevelopment disorders in the hope of defining potentially therapeutic molecular interventions.

In the early 1980s, Margulies started the program in clinical computing at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center. Concurrently, he created the first commercial online medical searching service for physicians. In the mid-1980s, he was CIO at Children’s Hospital and founded the program in clinical computing at CHB/Harvard Medical School. He then became chief scientist, executive vice president, and director at Cerner Corporation responsible for the direction and engineering of Cerner’s enterprise product, after which he co-founded CareInsite (now merged with WebMD).  In 2000, Margulies was the co-founder and CEO of a successful DNA diagnostics company (Correlagen Diagnostics), which was acquired by LabCorp of America to be its Center of Excellence for DNA Diagnostics on a national scale. In 2007, he also cofounded Generation Health (acquired by CVS/CareMark).

Margulies earned a B.A. in biology, magna cum laude, from Amherst College in 1973 and an M.D. from Harvard Medical School in 1977. He completed his residency in internal medicine at Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons and did additional post-graduate training in neurosciences.  He is Board-certified in internal medicine.

The Croxton Lecture Fund was created in 1988 by William M. Croxton, a 1936 graduate of Amherst College, in memory of his parents, Ruth L. and Hugh W. Croxton.  Income from this Fund is used to bring lecturers with substantial reputations to Amherst for the purpose of educating Amherst students.   

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