Tom Maniatis Named Director of Precision Medicine Initiative

Tom Maniatis, PhD, has been appointed director of Columbia’s university-wide precision medicine initiative. Dr. Maniatis is one of the pioneers of modern molecular biology, having led the development of recombinant DNA methods and their application to both basic biomedical research and biotechnology. He is the Isidore S. Edelman Professor of Biochemistry and chair of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics at Columbia University Medical Center and a cofounder of the New York Genome Center, of which Columbia is a partner.

His appointment is a crucial step in the university’s initiative, intended to position the university at the forefront of genomics, data science, and the core science and engineering disciplines essential to this emerging field of humanistic medicine. The potential for progress in this broad field goes beyond new cures for disease and the practice of medicine. It encompasses virtually every part of the university, including areas that explore fundamental issues of human self-knowledge and the legal, policy, and economic implications of revolutionary changes in our understanding of human biology.

Dr. Maniatis coauthored the definitive laboratory manual on genetic engineering, published by the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, which set a standard for international dissemination of recombinant DNA methods. His past research has led to major advances in our understanding of the mechanisms of gene expression at the level of RNA transcription and splicing. His current research focuses on the role of single-cell diversity in neural connectivity, as well as on the molecular mechanisms that underlie the neurodegenerative disease ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease).

After receiving his BA and MS from the University of Colorado at Boulder and his PhD in molecular biology from Vanderbilt University, Dr. Maniatis did postdoctoral work at Harvard and at the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, England. He has held faculty appointments at Harvard, the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, and Caltech. He is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Medicine and is the recipient of numerous prestigious awards, including the 2012 Lasker~Koshland Special Achievement Award in Medical Science.