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Office of the Dean

Office of the Dean

NEWS | February 24, 2012

"Promise of Personalized Medicine" topic of 2012 Highman Lecture

(SACRAMENTO, Calif.)

Jeffrey Saffitz, the Mallinckrodt Professor of Pathology at Harvard Medical School, will deliver the 2012 Benjamin Highman Lecture on Thursday, March 15, at 5 p.m. in the UC Davis Cancer Center auditorium.

Saffitz's lecture is titled "Realizing the Promise of Personalized Medicine: Use of High-throughput Genome Sequencing in Everyday Clinical Laboratory Diagnostics."

Saffitz is the senior author of  "A National Agenda for the Future of Pathology in Personalized Medicine: Report of the Proceedings of a Meeting at the Banbury Conference on Genome-Era Pathology, Precision Diagnostics, and Pre-emptive Care," published last year in the American Journal of Clinical Pathology.

As this report describes, genomic testing is catalyzing fundamental changes in medical care. It is plausible to anticipate that healthy people will have their genomes sequenced as the foundation of personalized programs to promote lifelong health, prevent disease, and manage disease when it occurs. Saffitz will provide helpful insights on how pathologists can prepare for and lead this change in their clinical practices and in the services offered by pathology laboratories, and how they can prepare the next generation of health-care providers.

Saffitz is chair of pathology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. An internationally renowned pathologist and researcher, Saffitz has focused his research on finding the mechanisms of sudden cardiac death with the ultimate goal to develop novel therapies to prevent lethal arrhythmias.

Using mouse models, Saffitz and his team have found that genetic defects in cell-cell adhesion junctions and resultant discontinuities between mechanical junctions and the cytoskeleton cause contractile dysfunction and altered electrical conduction that can lead to sudden death.

Saffitz received his undergraduate, graduate and medical degrees from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio.

The Highman Symposium is an annual lectureship in honor of Benjamin Highman. Highman spent almost 40 years in the U.S. Public Health service serving as medical director, and as Chief of Pathologic Anatomy at the National Institutes of Health. He was awarded the Willey Medallion and a special citation by the FDA. In 1985, Highman retired and joined the volunteer faculty at the UC Davis School of Medicine.