Huntington Willard, a leader in emerging fields of genomics, has been named director of Duke's Institute for Genome Sciences and Policy (IGSP). The $200-million genomics institute, launched in 2000, represents Duke's comprehensive response to the broad challenges of the genomic revolution. Because advances in genome science and its applications raise a broad spectrum of ethical, legal, and policy issues, the IGSP comprises--in addition to scientists, engineers, and physicians--scholars in law, business, economics, public policy, ethics, religion, environmental studies, and other humanities and social sciences.
" Hunt Willard is a superb appointment to lead this unprecedented university-wide initiative," says Duke Provost Peter Lange. "What most pleases me, beyond his excellent record of accomplishments, is the speed with which he has grasped and embraced the unique interdisciplinary qualities of the IGSP. We have from the beginning recognized that the IGSP must engage the profound ethical, legal, and policy issues that are raised by the genomic revolution, even as the institute fosters Duke's research on fundamental questions of genomics and their transforming application to the clinical sciences."
Duke's Institute for Genome Sciences and Policy includes five research centers: the Center for Human Genetics, Center for Human Disease Models, Center for Genome Technology, Center for Bioinformatics and Computational Biology, and Center for Genome Ethics, Law, and Policy.
Researchers at the centers are carrying out studies on the genetic basis of diseases ranging from Alzheimer's to cancer, as well as developing new computational research techniques and organizing forums that explore the social impact of genomic advances.
Willard, who earned his bachelor's in biology at Harvard University and his Ph.D. at Yale University, has held research and academic posts at Stanford University and the University of Toronto. He joined the faculty of Case Western Reserve University in 1992 as the Henry Wilson Payne Professor and chair of the department of genetics. In 1992, he also became director of the Center for Human Genetics at Case Western Reserve and University Hospitals of Cleveland.