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Huntington F. Willard appointed to lead national expansion

DANVILLE, Pa. – As part of its strategy to expand its successful precision health program on a national level, Geisinger announced the launch of the Geisinger National Precision Health Initiative and the appointment of Huntington F. Willard, Ph.D., as its first director.

The new Geisinger National Precision Health Initiative, based in the Washington, D.C., area, will provide increased national exposure for the Geisinger model of integrating genomics and data science into precision healthcare, as well as for launching new strategic partnerships and ventures to extend the Geisinger model on the national scene.  This program will leverage the extensive advances of the MyCode Community Health Initiative and electronic health data integration at Geisinger.

To accelerate innovation in the Geisinger National Precision Health Initiative, Willard will launch a new Precision Health Innovation Lab, leveraging discoveries and advances in genomics and data science throughout Geisinger. 

“I’m thrilled to be joining the Geisinger family. I know of no other health system with such dedication to putting patients and their health first,” Willard said. “I look forward to launching new programs committed to broadening Geisinger’s impact in precision health on a national scale.”

Willard is an internationally recognized leader in human genetics and genomics, with a long record of innovative, integrative, and forward-looking leadership in both academia and healthcare.  He is a former President of the American Society of Human Genetics, founding director of the Duke Institute for Genome Sciences & Policy (2003-2014), and the 15th President of the Marine Biological Laboratory (2015-2017).  In addition to an extensive list of over 300 research publications, Willard is co-editor of the first textbook on precision medicine titled “Genomic & Precision Medicine,” now in its third edition. 

“The addition of Hunt Willard to our already outstanding genomics and precision health team at Geisinger allows us to ‘double-down’ on our bet on this game-changing approach to anticipatory medicine – preventing early-onset cancer, cardiovascular events, and other diseases, and keeping people out of hospitals. We are already seeing this benefit to our patients in Pennsylvania and New Jersey and are eager to extend this program nationally,” said David T. Feinberg, M.D., MBA, Geisinger president & CEO. 

“Hunt Willard has built world-class genomics and precision health programs at several academic institutions and we look forward to his greatly enhancing our ability to rapidly expand the Geisinger model for precision health on a national scale” said David H. Ledbetter, Ph.D., Geisinger executive vice president & chief scientific officer. 

An elected member of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Medicine, Willard will be professor of precision health and associate chief scientific officer at Geisinger, as well as director of the Geisinger National Precision Health Initiative.

He has been chair of the Geisinger Scientific Advisory Board since 2011 and was an influential part of the most recent Geisinger strategic plan released in 2014.  He will join Geisinger officially in January 2018.

About Geisinger
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 College of Health Sciences, which includes schools of medicine, nursing and graduate education. With more than 25,000 employees and 1,700+ employed physicians, Geisinger boosts its hometown economies in Pennsylvania by billions of dollars annually. Learn more at or connect with us on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter.

Dr. Huntington F. Willard
Director of the Geisinger National Precision Health Initiative Dr. Huntington F. Willard