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Genomic Guru

Manolio leads efforts to make personalized medicine a reality.

When the Human Genome Project completed the sequencing of a single individual’s DNA in 2003, the price tag for that epochal accomplishment was a staggering $2 billion. Today, the technology for doing the same thing costs $4,000 to $5,000—and soon could cost less than $1,000.

That’s “an incredible return” on the government’s investment in medical technology, notes Teri Manolio (fellow, general internal medicine, 1984-87), who directs the Division of Genomic Medicine in the NIH’s National Human Genome Research Institute.

Given the rapid advances in technology, Manolio envisions that within another 10 years, medical centers will have the infrastructure in place for physicians to scan a patient’s genome, similar to the way “they scan a chest x-ray now” or review an EKG. This will enable doctors “to understand many more of the [genetic] variations that influence people’s disease—their disease risk as well as how they respond to drugs and other things.”

As director of the Division of Genomic Medicine, which has a $40 million annual budget, Manolio and her colleagues have been pursuing the complex integration of genomic data into existing national NIH studies, such as the Cardiovascular Health Study, the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis, and the Jackson Heart Study. She also is leading the development of guidelines for sharing genomic data widely with protections for participant confidentiality.

Manolio, who holds a PhD in human genetics and genetic epidemiology from the Bloomberg School, calls the NIH, the “best place to work outside of Hopkins.”

Genomic Guru

Despite a grueling schedule, Manolio finds a day a week to ride her horse, Felice Día, which means “Happy Day” in Spanish.