Will serve as investigator and new biobank director
DANVILLE, PA -- Ming Ta (Mike) Lee, Ph.D., has joined Geisinger’s Genomic Medicine Institute where he will assist in directing the MyCode Community Health Initiative, a large-scale genomics study designed to identify gene variants associated with human disease.
He will also contribute to ongoing work in pharmacogenomics, the study of how genes affect a person's response to drugs.
An experienced biobank leader, Dr. Lee will further develop the infrastructure and standard operating procedures for specimen collection, processing and shipment to the central biobank. The goal is to have the MyCode biobank meet or exceed the standards established by national and international entities that oversee and certify biorepositories.
“We look forward to Dr. Lee’s contributions to expansion of the Geisinger MyCode biobank,” said David J. Carey, Ph.D., Associate Chief Research Officer at Geisinger. “The MyCode initiative provides a unique resource to link genomic and other data to longitudinal health information from MyCode participants, with the goal to improve health and medical care of Geisinger patients,” Carey said.
In previous research work, Dr. Lee has helped to establish the proper dosing of key anticoagulant drugs using clinical and genomic information. People react differently to different doses of the same drugs, based partly on individual genomic variants. Knowing how genomic variants affect individual drug tolerance can improve efficiency, reduce side effects and even save lives, making pharmacogenomics a promising and vital area of research.
“Mike is an international leader in pharmacogenomics,” said Marc Williams, M.D., director of the Genomic Medicine Institute. “He has led the development of pharmacogenomic clinical guidelines and will be working closely with researchers and clinicians at Geisinger to implement this information to improve the safety and effectiveness of medications for our patients,” he said.
Dr. Lee most recently held positions in Japan and in his native Taiwan. He has been serving as a team leader at the Genomic Sciences Center in Yokohama, Japan, which forms part of the Japanese natural sciences research institute, Rikagaku Kenkyusho, also known as RIKEN. He also has been working as an assistant research scientist at the Institute of Biomedical Sciences, Academia Sinica, in Taiwan.
Educated at the University of Toronto in Canada and Cambridge University in the United Kingdom, where he earned his doctorate in molecular virology, Lee joined Geisinger April 1.
The MyCode study, launched in 2014 by Geisinger in collaboration with Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc., is a few steps ahead of the new federal Precision Medicine initiative, with close to 100,000 participants who have signed up to have their exomes – portions of the genome that provide protein coding –sequenced.
MyCode is collecting blood samples from consented participants as part of this project. The information gleaned from those samples will contribute to a broad range of research aimed at understanding, preventing or improving treatments for disease. For more information on how to participate in the MyCode study, email JoinMyCode@geisinger.edu or call 844-798-1687.
Geisinger is committed to making better health easier for the more than 1 million people it serves. Founded more than 100 years ago by Abigail Geisinger, the system now includes 10 hospital campuses, a health plan with more than half a million members, a Research Institute and the Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine. With nearly 24,000 employees and more than 1,700 employed physicians, Geisinger boosts its hometown economies in Pennsylvania by billions of dollars annually. Learn more at Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter.