Stetten Lecture videocast
Speaker: Russ B. Altman, M.D., Ph.D.
Professor and Chair of Bioengineering; Professor of Genetics, Medicine and (by courtesy) Computer Science at Stanford University
Russ Altman applies computing technology to a range of medically relevant problems. He is particularly interested in informatics methods for advancing pharmacogenomics, the study of how human genetic variation impacts drug response. His work also focuses on the analysis of functional sites within macromolecules to understand drug actions, interactions and adverse events.
Last year, Altman and his colleagues conducted the first integrated clinical assessment of the genome of a patient. The analysis revealed variants associated with disease risk and anticipated drug response. It is considered a proof of concept that whole-genome sequencing can yield clinically useful information for individual patients. The study also demonstrated the clinical relevance of the Pharmacogenomics Knowledge Base (PharmGKB), which Altman directs.
More recently, Altman mined adverse event reporting data and electronic medical records to identify a potentially dangerous side effect of combining two commonly prescribed drugs, the antidepressant Paxil and the statin Pravachol. In addition, he has developed an algorithm to extract commonly occurring relationships between key entities like genes, drugs and phenotypes from a corpus of 17 million scientific abstracts.
Since 1992, Altman has held faculty appointments in the departments of medicine, genetics and bioengineering at Stanford University. He also holds a courtesy appointment in the university’s department of computer science. Altman became a professor in the four departments in 2004 and department of bioengineering chair in 2007.
Altman earned an A.B. in biochemistry and molecular biology from Harvard College in 1983, a Ph.D. in medical information sciences from Stanford University in 1989 and an M.D. from Stanford in 1990. He completed his clinical training in internal medicine at Stanford in 1992.
Altman has authored more than 220 journal articles. His honors include a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers and election to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies. He is a fellow of the American College of Physicians, the American College of Medical Informatics, the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering and the International Society for Computational Biology (ISCB).
In addition to PharmGKB, Altman leads the NIH-funded National Center for Biomedical Computation at Stanford (Simbios), which focuses on physics-based simulation of biological structures. He is a founding board member and past president of the ISCB. He also organizes the annual Pacific Symposium on Biocomputing.
Altman has a longstanding interest in research training and has directed the Stanford Biomedical Informatics Training Program since 2000. That same year, he received the inaugural Stanford Graduate Teaching Award.
NIGMS has supported Altman’s work since 2000.