UC Davis presents 2015 Benjamin Highman Lecture on genomic medicine

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Harnessing the power of whole genome analysis and further defining the role of pathologists in this new era of medicine is the topic of the 2015 Benjamin Highman Lecture, sponsored by the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at UC Davis Health System.

Debra G. B. Leonard

Debra G. B. Leonard

Sequencing the genomes, or entire DNA codes, of individuals to better diagnose and treat disease is a burgeoning area of research. From identifying specific genetic mistakes highly associated with certain cancers to applying effective treatments to mitigate a wayward gene’s effects, personalized genomic medicine is increasingly finding its way into patient care.

Harnessing the power of whole genome analysis and further defining the role of pathologists in this new era of medicine is the topic of the 2015 Benjamin Highman Lecture, sponsored by the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at UC Davis Health System.

The lecture, entitled “Moving to Genomic Medicine,” will be held from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 22 at the Education Building, 4610 X Street in auditorium #2222 in Sacramento. A reception will follow the presentation. Participants can register at Eventbrite.

The lecture will be presented by Debra G. B. Leonard, a leading expert in molecular pathology and genomic medicine and in applying genomic information for diagnosis and treatment of human diseases, including inherited disorders, cancers and infectious diseases.

During her presentation, Leonard will highlight the current applications for genomics and describe the various online genomic medicine resources for testing and for making patient-care decisions. She has spoken widely on various molecular pathology testing services, the future of molecular pathology and the impact of gene patents on molecular pathology practice. Leonard is professor and chair of pathology and laboratory medicine at the University of Vermont Medical Center and Physician Leader of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at Fletcher Allen Health Care.

“Making use of the massive amount of data that results from whole genome testing is an ongoing challenge for practicing physicians across disciplines,” said Lydia Howell, professor and chair of pathology and laboratory medicine at UC Davis Health System. “While we have the technology to quickly identify an individual’s entire genetic code, which includes some three million genetic sequences, it’s less easy to know which genetic mistakes actually cause disease. Pathologists, with their expertise in molecular diagnostic testing, are in a unique position to lead the current movement of genomic medicine from the research bench to applications in the clinic. ”

The Highman Symposium is an annual lectureship in honor of Benjamin Highman, who spent almost 40 years in the U.S. Public Health Service as medical director and as chief of Pathologic Anatomy at the National Institutes of Health. He was awarded the Willey Medallion and a special citation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. In 1985, Highman retired and joined the volunteer faculty at the UC Davis School of Medicine.

The Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine includes 40 faculty and 400 academic and clinical staff who develop and deliver comprehensive diagnostic services in the fields of pathology and laboratory medicine through established and novel diagnostic modalities. Its Clinical Laboratory is home to one of the most technologically advanced testing facilities in California, providing many unique diagnostic tests unavailable elsewhere. The department processes 5 million clinical tests and 20,000 surgical pathology and 20,000 cytology specimens each year.

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Carole Gan
UC Davis Health System
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