February 25, 2002
David Haussler to deliver Faculty Research Lecture on Thursday, February 28
By Tim Stephens
Professor of computer science David Haussler has gained international recognition
through his recent contributions to the Human Genome Project. Having helped to assemble
a working draft of the human genome, he is now deeply involved in efforts to use
the information encoded in the genome sequence to transform the practice of medicine
and our understanding of biology.
On Thursday, February 28, Haussler will give the 35th annual Faculty Research Lecture
at UCSC. His talk, entitled "A Working Draft of the Human Genome," will
begin at 8 p.m. in the Media Theater. The event is free and open to the general public.
|David Haussler holds the UC Presidential Chair in Computer Science. Photo: r.r. jones
Haussler holds the UC Presidential Chair in Computer Science and is a Howard Hughes
Medical Institute investigator. He is director of the Center for Biomolecular Science
and Engineering (CBSE), and was recently appointed associate director of the UC systemwide
Insitute for Bioengineering, Biotechnology, and Quantitative Biomedical Research
(QB3). He was named "2001 Scientist of the Year" by R&D magazine.
For many years, Haussler has been recognized as a leader in the fields of computational
learning theory, computational biology, and bioinformatics. At UCSC, one of his most
important accomplishments has been to forge deep and fruitful scientific interactions
between computer scientists and molecular biologists.
These interdisciplinary interactions at UCSC proved to be crucial to the success
of the public Human Genome Project. Through Alan Zahler, an associate professor of
molecular, cell, and developmental biology, Haussler began collaborating with Zahler's
graduate student, Jim Kent. In the spring of 2000, Kent created the computer program
used to assemble the genome data produced by sequencing labs around the world into
the DNA sequences of the human chromosomes. This first working draft of the human
genome was completed just days before a carefully orchestrated announcement at the
Haussler's group posted the first working draft of the genome on the World Wide Web
and has continued to post regularly updated versions.
Molecular biologists and biomedical researchers make more than 50,000 web requests
per day for information from this site and its international mirror sites.
Not only is the genome sequence itself available at these sites, but also information
on human genes and their variation in the population, their locations in relation
to genetic and cytogenetic maps of inherited human diseases, corresponding genes
in other species, and dozens of other kinds of information. By providing integration
and analysis of this data, the new field of bioinformatics is helping to transform
molecular biology and medicine.
Ten years from now, doctors may routinely use genomic data and bioinformatics as
part of disease diagnosis and treatment. But along with the promise of dramatically
improved health care, this new technology raises important social, ethical, and legal
questions. Will the new medicine be broadly available? Will insurers or employers
be allowed to discriminate against individuals based on their genetic makeup? How
far should people be allowed to go in choosing the genetic attributes of their children?
In his talk, Haussler will discuss the excitement of doing research on the cutting
edge of science and technology, as well as the concerns that accompany recent progress
in understanding our genetic heritage.
Haussler joined the UCSC faculty in 1986. He earned his B.A. in mathematics from
Connecticut College, an M.S. in applied mathematics from California Polytechnic State
University, San Luis Obispo, and a Ph.D. in computer science from the University
of Colorado, Boulder.
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