Message from the Director

The landscape of the genome sciences has changed substantially over the past decade. In all areas of scientific development, social and policy impact, availability and adoption of new technologies, and engagement of students, our world could hardly be more different today from what it was when the IGSP was first launched in January 2003.

Since 2003, the IGSP has recruited approximately 35 new faculty to Duke and provided financial support to about 75 research programs in six schools and more than 20 departments at Duke, bringing expertise in the genome sciences to a broad cross-section of the institution. New educational programs have been launched for undergraduates, graduate students, and professional students; new core facilities and resources have been developed to provide services and introduce technologies to hundreds of laboratories around the campus; and a vibrant community of interdisciplinary scholars has emerged to explore the impact of new discoveries on society and individuals in both health and disease.

To best position Duke to meet the challenges and opportunities in the years ahead in the rapidly changing areas of genome sciences and policy, the institution is now launching a series of interrelated units, each with a distinctive emphasis and led by three of Duke’s most committed and collaborative interdisciplinary leaders.

  • Computational Biology & Integrative Genomics, directed by Greg Wray, Professor of Biology
  • Duke Science & Society, directed by Nita Farahany, Professor of Law and Philosophy
  • Applied Genomics & Precision Medicine, directed by Geoff Ginsburg, Professor of Medicine and Biomedical Engineering

In combination, these three units will continue Duke’s commitment to a vibrant and resource-rich institution-wide program in genomics and computational biology research, teaching, translation and service. They will now drive the key intellectual areas that have emerged since the IGSP’s founding more than a decade ago. One of the defining characteristics of campus-wide institutes such as the IGSP, as catalysts of interdisciplinary innovation and collaboration, is the ability to adapt to changing landscapes. Therefore, with the launching of these new units and with the now deep representation of expertise in the genome sciences and policy in many of the schools around campus, the IGSP will no longer serve as one of Duke’s institutes, as of July 1, 2014.

The creation of these units represents an exciting opportunity for Duke in the years ahead – in the impact of science on society; in translational genomics and its impact on health care; and in the quantitative life sciences at the data-rich intersection of genomics, computational biology, bioengineering and medicine. Combined with a range of both ongoing and new educational programs and a suite of core resources for high-dimensional data generation and analysis, innovation in these areas will allow Duke to fully engage and serve an interdisciplinary community of investigators and students across the entire campus. They will complement and augment the very extensive genomics and computational biology activities going on in numerous departments and other units throughout Duke, many of them fostered by the programs of the IGSP over the last decade.

We invite you to visit this website frequently in the months ahead, as plans for these units emerge and as Duke presents a new face for our activities across the breadth of genomic technology and discovery and their significance for individuals, families and society at large.

The scientists, scholars, physicians, staff and students of the IGSP are grateful for the opportunity to have helped launch Duke’s efforts in genome sciences and policy over the past dozen years. As these efforts transition in the coming months, we are confident that the new organizational structure and focus will bring renewed opportunities for accomplishment and distinction.

Huntington F. Willard
March 2014