Speakers & Discussion Leaders

David Altshuler

David Altshuler, M.D., Ph.D. Endocrinologist and human geneticist David Altshuler is one of four founding members of the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT and serves as the Institute’s Deputy Director and Chief Academic Officer. He is professor of genetics and medicine at Harvard Medical School and at Massachusetts General Hospital, and adjunct professor of Biology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. David studies human genetic variation and its application to disease, using tools and information from the Human Genome Project. He has been a lead investigator in The SNP Consortium, the International HapMap Project, and the 1,000 Genomes Project - public-private partnerships that have created public maps of human genome sequence variation as a foundation for disease research. His work has contributed to the identification of gene variants that are associated with the risk of common conditions, including type 2 diabetes, blood cholesterol and myocardial infarction. David was awarded the Curt Stern Award of the American Society of Human Genetics and the Outstanding Scientific Achievement Award of the American Diabetes Association. Altshuler was also named a Champion of Change by the White House for his leadership role in the global alliance for sharing genomic and clinical data.

Diana Bianchi

Diana W. Bianchi is the Executive Director of the Mother Infant Research Institute at Tufts Medical Center and the Natalie V. Zucker Professor of Pediatrics, Obstetrics and Gynecology at Tufts University School of Medicine. Dr. Bianchi received her M.D. from Stanford and did her postdoctoral training in Pediatrics, Medical Genetics and Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine at Harvard. Her translational research focuses on prenatal genomics with the goal of advancing noninvasive prenatal DNA diagnosis and using information from fetal gene expression to develop novel individualized fetal therapies. Dr. Bianchi has published over 260 peer-reviewed articles and is Editor-in-Chief of Prenatal Diagnosis. She is a member of the National Advisory Council of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) and a Past President of the International Society for Prenatal Diagnosis and the Perinatal Research Society. In 2013 she was elected to the Institute of Medicine.

Jonathan Bingham

Jonathan Bingham is Product Manager of the genomics team at Google and leads Google’s efforts to support cloud computing for the life sciences. Previously he was Product Manager for bioinformatics at Pacific Biosciences. Before that, he worked for Sugen, a Pharmacia Company, where he mined genomic data to identify kinases and phosphatases, and Los Alamos National Laboratory, where he developed algorithms and pipelines for viral evolution. He holds a dual MBA from Columbia University and University of California Berkeley, was a PhD candidate at Duke University before leaving to start two businesses. When traveling in the Bay Area, ask him for international restaurant recommendations.

Randy Buckner

Randy L. Buckner is Professor of Psychology and of Neuroscience at Harvard University and affiliated with the Center for Brain Science. He is also Professor at the Harvard Medical School and the Director for Psychiatric Neuroimaging Research at the Massachusetts General Hospital. He received his Ph.D. degree in neuroscience from Washington University, under the direction of Steven Petersen and Marcus Raichle. He trained with Bruce Rosen as a postdoctoral fellow and then Instructor of Radiology at Harvard Medical School, where he pioneered new functional MRI methods to study human memory. Over the past decade his work has expanded to include studies of Alzheimer's disease and neuropsychiatric illness with a focus on developing biomarkers for disease detection and progression. This work has led to a description of the brain’s default network and how it is targeted early in the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. Professor Buckner’s awards include the Wiley Young Investigator Award from the Organization of Human Brain Mapping, the Young Investigator Award from the Cognitive Neuroscience Society, the 2007 Troland Research Award from the National Academy of Sciences, and the 2010 Award for Medical Research in Alzheimer’s Disease from the MetLife Foundation. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

George Church

George Church, PhD is Professor of Genetics, Harvard Medical School, Wyss Institute, Director of the Center for Computational Genetics, Director of the NIH Center for Excellence in Genomic Science (on human genome engineering), founder of the Personal Genome Project, president of the nonprofit PersonalGenomes.org and guinea pig #1. He is a member of the NAS and NAE and Franklin Laureate for Achievement in Science.

alastair dant



Alastair Dant is an experienced web developer, focused on interactive storytelling and data visualization. After several years leading an award-winning team at the Guardian, he now works for the New York Times.


Esther Dyson



Esther Dyson (@edyson on twitter) is PGP research subject #3 and the founder of HICCup.co, for Health Initiative Coordinating Council. HICCup has just launched The Way to Wellville [at www.hiccup.co], an open-source, evidence-generating project devoted to defining and testing models for producing community health (not health care) that will return profits to investors and health to the participants. It will use a contest in order to entice the best communities to compete and to give their successes and (educational) failures visibility. Its slogan: "Five places, five metrics, five years!" Aside from that, Dyson spends her time investing in and nurturing start-ups, with a recent focus on health care and aerospace. She is an investor in 23andMe (also a director), Applied Proteomics, Crohnology, Eligible API, Genomera, GeriJoy, Health Loop, HealthTap, i2Dx, Keas (also an advisor), Medivo, mEquilibrium, Omada Health, Organized Wisdom, PatientsLikeMe, PatientsKnowBest (UK), Resilient, Sleepio (UK), StartupHealth, Tocagen, Valkee (Finland), VitaPortal (Russia, also an advisor) and Voxiva (also a director). Photo credit: Tom Gruber.



David Epstein

David Epstein is author of the recent New York Times bestseller The Sports Gene: Inside the Science of Extraordinary Athletic Performance, and is an investigative reporter at ProPublica. He was previously a senior writer at Sports Illustrated, where he covered sports science and medicine and authored or co-authored many of the magazine’s most high profile pieces, including the 2009 revelation that Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez had used steroids. David has also been a higher ed reporter and a crime reporter. He has a master’s degree in environmental science, and has lived in the Sonoran Desert, on a ship in the Pacific Ocean, and in the Arctic in Alaska.

Deborah Estrin

Deborah Estrin is a Professor of Computer Science at Cornell Tech (http://tech.cornell.edu/deborah-estrin), Professor of Public Health at Weill Cornell Medical College, and co-founder of Open mHealth (http://openmhealth.org/). Deborah was previously at UCLA directing the NSF Center for Embedded Networked Sensing. She is a pioneer in networked sensing, using mobile and wireless systems to collect and analyze real time data about the physical world and the people who occupy it. Her current focus is on mobile health and small data, leveraging the pervasiveness of mobile devices and digital interactions for health and life management (see TEDMED https://smalldata.tech.cornell.edu/). She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering.

Mark Gerstein

Mark Gerstein is the Albert L Williams professor of Biomedical Informatics at Yale University. He is co-director the Yale Computational Biology and Bioinformatics Program, and has appointments in the Department of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry and the Department of Computer Science. He received his AB in physics summa cum laude from Harvard College and his PhD in chemistry from Cambridge. He did post-doctoral work at Stanford and took up his post at Yale in early 1997. Since then he has published appreciably in scientific journals. He has >400 publications in total, with a number of them in prominent journals, such as Science, Nature, and Scientific American. (His current publication list is at http://papers.gersteinlab.org .) His research is focused on bioinformatics, and he is particularly interested in large-scale integrative surveys, biological database design, macromolecular geometry, molecular simulation, human genome annotation, gene expression analysis, and data mining.

Robert Green

Robert C. Green, MD, MPH is a medical geneticist and a clinical researcher who directs the G2P research program (genomes2people.org) in translational genomics and health outcomes in the Division of Genetics at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School. Dr. Green is principal investigator of the NIH-funded REVEAL Study involving randomized clinical trials to disclose a genetic risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease. He also co-directs the NIH-funded PGen Study, the first prospective study of direct-to-consumer genetic testing services and leads the MedSeq Project, the first NIH-funded research study to explore the use of whole genome sequencing in the clinical practice of medicine. Dr. Green is currently Associate Director for Research of the Partners Center for Personalized Genetic Medicine, and a Board Member of the Council for Responsible Genetics. He co-chairs the ACMG Working Group that is developing recommendations for management of incidental findings in clinical sequencing.

AJ Jacobs

A.J. Jacobs is the author of four New York Times bestsellers, including "The Year of Living Biblically" and “Drop Dead Healthy.” For his next book, he is helping to build the world’s largest family tree (currently at 76 million people) and will be holding the world’s largest family reunion in the summer of 2015. He is working closely with the Personal Genome Project to help map more cousins onto the tree. He is also the editor at large at Esquire magazine and an NPR commentator. Go to ajjacobs.com/global-family-reunion to get on the list for the event.

Carolyn Johnson

Carolyn Johnson is the science reporter at the Boston Globe. She writes stories about a wide variety of topics, ranging from astrophysics to biomedical research. She was a member of a reporting team named as a finalist for a 2013 Pulitzer Prize, for coverage of a meningitis outbreak linked to tainted drugs. She also has covered telecommunications and tech culture for the Business section. She was a physics and English major at Amherst College and earned her master’s degree in science writing from MIT.

Michael Linderman

Michael Linderman is a computer engineer and computational biologist working to advance medical genomics. He completed his post-doctoral work in Garry Nolan's immunology lab at Stanford after earning his Ph.D. and M.S. from Stanford University in Electrical Engineering and his B.S. from Harvey Mudd College. Michael is an assistant professor in the Department of Genetics and Genomic Sciences and the Icahn Institute for Genomics and Multiscale Biology at Mount Sinai where he works on integrating genomics into clinical care. He develops and maintains the informatics infrastructure supporting clinical sequencing and a study investigating the return of whole genome sequencing data to healthy individuals. Michael is the course director of Sinai's novel personal genome analysis course, and recently developed a new course focused on modeling the economic value of genomic information.

Michelle Meyer

Michelle Meyer, J.D., Ph.D. (@michellenmeyer; www.michellenmeyer.com) is Assistant Professor and Director of Bioethics Policy in the Union Graduate College–Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai Bioethics Program, where her research focuses on genetics; reproduction; innovation law and policy, including research ethics and regulation; applications of behavioral economics to law and policy; and legal and ethical obstacles to evidence-based policy. Previously, she was an Academic Fellow at Harvard Law School’s Petrie-Flom Center, a Greenwall Fellow at Johns Hopkins and Georgetown, and a Research Fellow at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. She earned a Ph.D. in religious studies, with a focus on applied ethics, from the University of Virginia and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. She is on the Advisory Boards of the Social Science Genetic Association Consortium and Making Science Less WEIRD. She is a member of the Board of Directors of PersonalGenomes.org and a PGP participant.

Nathan Pearson

Nathan Pearson is Principal Genome Scientist at QIAGEN, where he and his colleagues build and apply tools that smartly interpret human genomes, in order to help researchers understand disease, drug response, and other phenotypes. Through computer, lab, and fieldwork with fellow scientists -- and with genome-curious layfolk such as historian Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and rocker Ozzy Osbourne -- he has sought to cast light on how human genetic variation reflects key aspects of our health and history. He tweets @GenomeNathan, and blogs at Genomena.com..

Ryan Phelan

Ryan Phelan is the Executive Director of Revive and Restore, a project within The Long Now Foundation, with a mission to provide deep ecological enrichment through extinct species revival. Phelan was founder and former CEO of DNA Direct, which provides genetic testing services and decision support for patients, providers and healthcare payors. In 2010, DNA Direct became a wholly owned subsidiary of Medco Health Solutions, one of the country's largest pharmacy benefit managers. Phelan has been a strong consumer health advocate for the past 25 years, having started the first medical library for consumers in 1978. As Founding Director of Planetree, a nonprofit consumer health care organization, she helped create a national model for humanizing hospitals, and a national model for providing health information to the public, the Planetree Resource Center. In 1995 she founded Direct Medical Knowledge (DMK). DMK was an extensive consumer health web site highly regarded for its unique content depth and innovative search interface. It was acquired by WebMD in 1999. She was also co-founder of the ALL Species Foundation in 2002, a global science initiative to discover all life on Earth, which evolved into the Encyclopedia of Life. She is on the board of PersonalGenomes.org.

Heidi Rehm

Heidi L. Rehm, PhD, FACMG is the Chief Laboratory Director at Partners' Laboratory for Molecular Medicine and Associate Professor of Pathology at Brigham & Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School. The lab focuses on the rapid translation of new genetic discoveries into clinical tests and bringing novel technologies and software systems into molecular diagnostics to support the integration of genetics into clinical use. The laboratory has been a leader in translational medicine, launching the first clinical tests for cardiomyopathy and lung cancer treatment. The lab offers whole genome sequencing services for both clinical diagnostics and to support several genomic medicine research projects including the MedSeq and BabySeq projects. Dr. Rehm is also involved in defining standards for the use of next generation sequencing in clinical diagnostics and the interpretation of sequence variants through her committee roles at the American College of Medical Genetics. Dr. Rehm is also one of several principal investigators of a major NIH-funded effort called ClinGen (Clinical Genome Resource Program) to support broad sharing of genotype and phenotype data and clinical annotations of genes and variants. Dr. Rehm also directs the Clinical Molecular Genetics training program at Harvard Medical School and conducts research in hearing loss, Usher syndrome, cardiomyopathy, healthcare IT and genomic medicine.

Jonathan Scheiman

Jonathan Scheiman is a Research Fellow at the Harvard Medical School, in the genomics laboratory of George Church. His work focuses on transformative sequencing technologies and methods of programmable cellular engineering. Outside of the laboratory Jonathan serves as an NBA correspondent for an international radio show and maintains his own instructional basketball blog: True Hoops NY. Having played collegiately and coached inner city public high school basketball, one of Jonathan’s long-term goals is to form alliances between the scientific and athletic communities. Merging genomics and basketball, Jonathan aims to introduce science into sport for beneficial allele discovery and performance enhancement, as well as use sports role models for educational purposes and urban outreach to inspire the next generation of scientists.

Juhan Sonin

Juhan Sonin is the Creative Director of Involution Studios and has been the creative leader of four different organizations, producing work recognized by the BBC, the New York Times, Ars Electronica, National Public Radio, and Billboard Magazine. Prior to joining Involution, Juhan spent time at Apple, the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA), and MITRE. He is also a lecturer on design and rapid prototyping at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Albert Sun

Albert Sun is a journalist and programmer working for the New York Times where he covers health and science with a focus on interactive storytelling.


Geoffrey von Maltzahn

Geoffrey von Maltzahn is an inventor and entrepreneur within Flagship VentureLabs, where he focuses on inventing technologies and starting companies. He is a founder of over six companies, including the VentureLabs companies Seres Health, Symbiota, and Pronutria, inventor on over 100 patent applications, and author of over 20 scientific manuscripts. Geoff has received over 20 awards and honors for his inventions, including the Lemelson-MIT Student Prize, awarded to the most innovative student at MIT. Geoff has been named “Whiz Kid” by Mass High Tech—the Journal of New England Technology and had his work recognized among the “world’s greatest scientific breakthroughs of today” by Dean Kamen on Planet Green and in the Innovations of the Year by MSNBC. He was awarded a Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering and Medical Physics from MIT; M.S. in Bioengineering from the University of California, San Diego; and S.B. in Chemical Engineering from MIT.

Ting Wu

Ting (C.-ting) Wu is a Professor of Genetics at Harvard Medical School. Her interests center on how chromosome behavior influences inheritance and, to this end, her laboratory invents and applies technologies that reveal how chromosomes interact with each other. Her talk will focus on a remarkable and puzzling set of sequences, called ultraconserved elements, which have resisted change for hundreds of millions of years. She recently co-hosted a symposium on Genetics, Biomedicine, and the Human Experience in Space and will bring some of that flavor to her talk. She is also the Director of the Personal Genetics Education Project (pgEd.org). pgEd works to accelerate public awareness of the benefits as well as implications of learning the details of one’s genome, engaging the public through schools, conferences, the entertainment industry (film and television), museums, and a mobile game (Map-Ed.org). She received her B.A. and Ph.D. from Harvard University and is a recent awardee of an NIH Director's Pioneer Award.