June CVRG Webinar - Peter J. Tonellato

June 14, 2012 - 1:00pm EDT

Presented by:
Peter J. Tonellato, Ph.D.
Director, Laboratory for Personalized Medicine, Center for Biomedical Informatics, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA
Professor (Visiting), Department of Pathology, BIDMC, Harvard Medical School
Professor, Zilber School of Public Health, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee
Title: "Bioinformatics Essentials for a Personalized Genomic Medicine Era"
View: (Archived webinar recording)

Essential to a future of preventive and predictive medicine is the integration of whole genome technologies into clinical and health practice. To this purpose, The Department of Pathology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center has joined with the Center for Biomedical Informatics, Harvard Medical School to work with a consortium of stake holders from health care, government and private industry to test the use of whole genome sequencing in genome-era medicine. Much like that created in biomedical science, whole genome sequencing, expression profiles and other high-throughput technologies will create a post-genome paradigm shift in health, disease prevention, and personalized medicine. However, this paradigm shift will not take place until the technologies and processes are re-engineered from use in the research setting into use in the best-practice care delivery setting. Our efforts include bioinformatics tools, methods and analysis to process and integrate personal genomes into the EHR, redefining regulatory management of whole genome sequencing in the clinical laboratory, reimbursement, and creating a robust clinical business model for post-genome pathology practice. These and parallel efforts though difficult, disruptive and time consuming will catalyze the adoption and widespread implementation of the post-genome competency required to fully capture the value of whole genome information and thereby position the discipline of pathology to lead rather than follow in the coming era of personalized medicine.

Speaker Bio:
Peter J. Tonellato, Ph.D., is visiting Professor in the Department of Pathology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC). He is also Director of the Laboratory for Personalized Medicine at the Center for Biomedical Informatics at Harvard Medical School (HMS). Dr. Tonellato received his B.S. in mathematics from the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, WA, and a Masters in applied mathematics from the University of Arizona. After studying at both the University of Oxford and Hiroshima University, he earned his Ph.D. in applied mathematics from the University of Arizona in 1985. Dr. Tonellato worked in biological mathematical modeling as Associate Professor, Department of Mathematics at Marquette University in Milwaukee, WI until 1998 when he become the founding Director of the Bioinformatics Research Center at the Medical College of Wisconsin, a position he held until 2004. During his tenure, Dr. Tonellato created the Rat Genome Database, the first-ever disease-centric repository of phenotype and genetic data; the Program in Genomic Applications, a data mining system for the heterogeneous collection of phenotypes, microarray expression, and genotypes in a broad collection of rat strains; and a large collection of databases and tools applied to cardiovascular and cancer research. Dr. Tonellato was also the Founder and Chairperson of PointOne Systems, LLC, the first personalized medicine software company to provide genetic-enabled “best practice” decision support systems to hospitals and health care facilities. He headed the company full-time for three years before returning to academia in 2007.

As Director of the Laboratory for Personalized Medicine at HMS, Dr. Tonellato oversees the development of strategies, methods, bioinformatic tools, and analyses to study and test the accuracy and clinical efficacy of genetic discoveries and accelerate their translation to practical clinical use. Dr. Tonellato’s recent work includes the creation of “clinical avatars,” which are used to simulate realistic patient populations and provide a collection of electronic medical records that can be used to test the efficacy of genetic data and the accuracy of predictive algorithms as well as to conduct clinical trial simulations. 

In addition to his positions at BIDMC and HMS, Dr. Tonellato is a Professor in the School of Public Health at the University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, where he serves as Director of the Laboratory for Public Health Informatics and Genomics. He is also a Professor of computer science in the University’s College of Engineering and Applied Science and the founder (in 2011) and Director of the Biomedical and Health Informatics Research Institute.