Guest: New Connections Between Genetics and Human Disease

Nancy J. Cox, Ph.D., earned a B.S. in Biology from the University of Notre Dame in 1978, and a Ph.D. in Human Genetics from Yale University in 1982. Dr. Cox completed post-doctoral research at Washington University in St. Louis and the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia before joining the University of Chicago in 1987, where she was a faculty member in the Departments of Medicine and Human Genetics for 28 years before becoming the inaugural Director of the Vanderbilt Genetics Institute (VGI). She is the Mary Phillips Edmonds Gray Professor and Director of the VGI and of the Division of Genetic Medicine in the Department of Medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

Her long-standing research program in identifying the genetic components to human disease is now centered in integrating genome variation with genome function and electronic health records (EHR) in BioVU, the biobank at Vanderbilt, with DNA samples on > 275,000 people linked to high quality EHR data going back an average of 10-15 years, and more than 30 years in some subjects. She organized the first genetics consortium with University of Michigan's Michael Boehnke in 1997 on type 2 diabetes, and has participated in many subsequent consortia and team science efforts focused on the genetics of specific human diseases, as well as in consortia focused on methods for association studies (ENDGAMe), transcriptomics (GTEx), and sequencing (as an Analytic Center for the Centers for Common Disease Genomics). 

She has served the scientific community as Editor-in-Chief of Genetic Epidemiology (2005-2011) and on editorial boards (Diabetes, American Journal of Human Genetics, Human Genetics, Annual Review of Human Genetics and Genomics) and as a member of the Board of Directors for the American Society of Human Genetics (including as President in 2017), and as Chair for Biological Sciences (2021) of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.