Genomics pioneer George Weinstock joins The Jackson Laboratory faculty
By Joyce Peterson
Farmington, Conn.—George M. Weinstock, Ph.D., a pioneer in the sequencing and genomic analysis of humans, model organisms and microbes, is joining the faculty of The Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine, where he will be professor and associate director for Microbial Genomics.
Weinstock is a leader of the Human Microbiome Project, an international effort to apply and develop the latest technologies to comprehensively characterize the large and genetically varied population of microorganisms that inhabit the human body and significantly impact human health.
"It is an honor for me to join The Jackson Laboratory, one of the venerable institutions in the field of genetics," says Weinstock. "Genomic medicine is at the leading edge of the current era of biomedical science, and I am extremely excited to be a part of The Jackson Laboratory’s vision for this area."
Charles Lee, Ph.D., professor and director of The Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine, notes that Weinstock "is a legend in the field of genomics who passionately devotes himself every day to understanding the biological impact of each DNA sequence variant obtained, to human biology and pathology. Some of his most recent and exciting research involves the development of new DNA sequencing-based diagnostic tests that identify the source of infections in children more rapidly and more accurately than any other medical test currently being used. Dr. Weinstock is a phenomenal recruit to The Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine and a precious new colleague to the physicians and researchers of Connecticut."
Jackson Laboratory Trustee David Valle, M.D., Henry J. Knott Professor and director of the McKusick-Nathans Institute of Genetic Medicine at The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, adds, "George Weinstock is a wonderful addition to the JAX-GM faculty. He has great expertise in large-scale sequencing and analysis of the resulting data and is one of the pioneers in the burgeoning, exciting field of the microbiome and how it plays a role in human health and disease."
Weinstock comes to The Jackson Laboratory from Washington University in St. Louis, where he has been associate director of the university’s Genome Institute as well as professor of genetics and professor of molecular microbiology since 2008. Before that he was co-director of the Human Genome Sequencing Center at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston and a professor in the Department of Human and Molecular Genetics there.
"George Weinstock is a giant in the field of human metagenomics," says Jackson Laboratory Vice President for Research Robert Braun, Ph.D. "He fills a strategic goal for JAX to contribute to the understanding of how the human microbiota influences normal human health and disease. His contributions have transformed, and will continue to transform, our view of human biology."
Using high-throughput DNA sequencing, genome-wide analysis, bioinformatics and other genetic methods, Weinstock brings genetic and genomic approaches to important problems in biology. He was also one of the leaders of the Human Genome Project and further guided one of the first personal genome projects, sequencing James Watson’s genome using next-generation sequencing technology. In 1998, he co-led one of the first bacterial genome projects, sequencing Treponema pallidum, the causative agent of syphilis.
Weinstock earned a B.S. in biophysics from the University of Michigan, and his Ph.D. from MIT under the direction of David Botstein, Ph.D., on the genetics of bacteriophage P22 and transposable elements. Botstein, now the Anthony B. Evnin Professor of Genomics and director of the Lewis-Sigler Institute at Princeton University, says, "George Weinstock has been one of the leaders in genomics since the beginning of the Human Genome Project. I know nobody who has a broader or deeper command of all the elements of genomics, from nucleic acid biochemistry to computational analysis. Recruiting him to The Jackson Laboratory is a coup, and brings to the Laboratory state-of-the-art sequencing and analysis technology."
Weinstock’s many awards and honors include being named a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a Human Genome Program senior fellow, and a fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology. He serves on many advisory panels in academia, industry and government, and is also a visiting expert at Shanghai Jiao Tong University and a visiting distinguished adjunct professor at King Abdulaziz University.
The Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine is currently in temporary quarters on the UConn Health Center campus in Farmington, Conn., while a 183,500-square-foot permanent facility, under construction nearby, is scheduled to open in October 2014.
The Jackson Laboratory is an independent, nonprofit biomedical research institution based in Bar Harbor, Maine, with a facility in Sacramento, Calif., and the new genomic medicine institute in Farmington, Conn. It employs more than 1,500 staff, and its mission is to discover precise genomic solutions for disease and empower the global biomedical community in the shared quest to improve human health.