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HUGO Past Presidents

Stylianos E. Antonarakis
HUGO President 2013-2016

Stylianos E. Antonarakis is currently Professor and Chairman of Genetic Medicine at the University of Geneva Medical School, and the founding director of iGE3 (institute of Genetics and Genomics of Geneva). He is a medical, molecular, human geneticist, physician-scientist, who studied extensively the relationship between genomic and phenotypic variation. He received his MD (1975) and DSc (1982) from the University of Athens Medical School, and after a specialization in Pediatrics in the University Hospital, Athens Greece, he moved to Baltimore, Maryland to the program of Medical Genetics at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine with Haig H. Kazazian and Victor McKusick (1980-1983). He joined the faculty of the Johns Hopkins University in 1983 and rose to full professor of Pediatric Genetics, Biology and Medicine in 1990. In 1992 he moved to Geneva, Switzerland to chair Genetic Medicine in the University of Geneva. His research work includes the molecular bases of monogenic disorders and complex genetic disorders including the beta-thalassemias, hemophilias, and trisomy 21. His laboratory participated in the human genome sequence and functional analysis, particularly on chromosome 21. He is an international expert on disorders of chromosome 21, cloning of genes for genetic disorders, development of diagnostic tests, genome structure and function, studies of the genome variability, and conserved non-coding sequences in human DNA. He has published extensively (more than 620 well-cited papers) in the scientific literature, and is co-editor of the current edition of the classic textbook “Genetics in Medicine”; he is listed as one of the highly cited scientists by the ISI institute (more than 40,000 citations; h-index 99). He was the President of the European Society of Human Genetics (2001-2002), member of the HUGO Council and President Elect of HUGO for 2013-2016, foreign member of the Academy of Athens (2003), member of EMBO (2006). He was the co-organizer of the European School of Genetic Medicine, and in the last 28 years taught in the Bar Harbor Genetics Course, Maine. He was awarded the Society of Pediatric Research Young Investigator Award (1984), International Jerome Lejeune Prize (2004), the European Society of Human Genetics Award (2005), and was elected to the Society of Scholars of the Johns Hopkins University (2006), and the American Academy of Physicians (2010). He was awarded the Commander of the Order of Phoenix medal from the Hellenic Democracy (2007). More than 70 talented young scientists were trained in his laboratory (graduate students and postdoctoral fellows); in addition more than 25 young physicians were trained in the Medical Genetics Clinic of his department. With Haig Kazazian he has established one of the first molecular diagnostic laboratories in USA as early as 1982. He is a member of the Swiss National Science Foundation Research Council, and the Chair of the Genetics Review Panel of the EU ERC. His research laboratory was/is supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health, the European Union (including the European Research Council), and the Swiss National Science Foundation and numerous other Foundations including the Gebert and Lejeune Foundations. His is the originator of the World Down Syndrome Day. His current interests and research projects are the functional analysis of the genome, effect of human genetic variation to phenotypic variation, the molecular pathogenesis of trisomy 21 and polygenic phenotypes, the functional characterization of the conserved fraction of the genome, diagnostics and prevention of genetic disorders, and the societal implications of genetics and genome research.

Professor Edison T. Liu
HUGO President 2007-2012

Dr. Edison Liu is the newly appointed president and CEO of The Jackson Laboratory. Dr. Liu joins the Laboratory from the Genome Institute of Singapore. As founding executive director, Dr. Liu built the GIS from a staff of three into a major research institute of 27 laboratory groups and a staff of 270, with faculty in functional genomics, computational biology, population genetics and genome-to systems biology. Before moving to Singapore in 2001, he was the scientific director of the National Cancer Institute's Division of Clinical Sciences in Bethesda, Md.

Born in Hong Kong in 1952, Edison Liu obtained his B.S. in chemistry and psychology, as well as his M.D., at Stanford University. He served his internship and residency at Washington University's Barnes Hospital in St. Louis, followed by an oncology fellowship at Stanford. From 1982 to 1987 he was at the University of California, San Francisco, first in a haematology fellowship at Moffitt Hospital and then as a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Nobel laureate J. Michael Bishop, while also serving as an instructor in the School of Medicine. From 1987 to 1996 he was at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he rose to director of the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Centre's Specialized Program of Research Excellence in Breast Cancer, the director of the Laboratory of Molecular Epidemiology at UNC's School of Public Health, chief of medical genetics, and chair of the Correlative Science Committee of the national cooperative clinical trials group, CALGB. Dr. Liu also held faculty positions in the UNC departments of medicine, epidemiology, biochemistry and biophysics, and in the curriculum in genetics. Dr. Edison Liu was born in Hong Kong, China, and immigrated to the United States in 1957. He received his bachelor's degree (Phi Beta Kappa) in chemistry and psychology from Stanford University where he remained to complete his M.D. in 1978. This was followed by internship and residency in internal medicine at Washington University, St. Louis, and clinical cancer fellowships at Stanford University (Oncology), and at the University of California at San Francisco (Haematology). He then pursued post-doctoral studies as a Damon-Runyan Cancer Research Fellow at the University of California at San Francisco in the laboratory of Dr. J. Michael Bishop identifying transforming genes in human leukemic states. In 1987, he joined the faculty of Medicine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. There, he developed programs in leukaemia and breast cancer research centring on molecular epidemiology and cell signalling. In 2001, Dr. Liu assumed the position of Executive Director, Genome Institute of Singapore which is a flagship programme of the Biomedical Sciences Initiative of Singapore. At the GIS, he is building an international research institute of 300 individuals focused on integrating genomic sciences with cell and medical biology. His scientific investigations have spanned molecular epidemiology to molecular biochemistry of human oncogenes and his current scientific research investigates the dynamics of whole genome gene transcription that explains biological states in cancer.

Professor Leena Peltonen 
HUGO President 2005-2007

Professor Leena Peltonen is among leading molecular geneticists world-wide and is one of the pioneers in the use of genetically isolated populations in the genetics-based identification of disease genes. Using study samples from Finland her research group has characterized the genetic background of numerous monogenic diseases and more recently identified tentative allelic variants in dyslipidemias and neuropsychiatric diseases. She has also been pivotal in numerous international research efforts and scientific networks. She has been the member of the international HUGO Council, the member of the UNESCO Bioethics Committee and in the Board of Directors of the American Society of Human Genetic and was President of ESHG for 2004/5. Professor Peltonen returned from UCLA to the University of Helsinki in 2002 and currently leads the Nordic Center of Excellence of Disease Genetics as well as a European Community research program, GENOMEUTWIN (www.genomeutwin.org.) aiming at characterization of genetic and life style risks of common diseases. Dr. Peltonen has received several international science awards, she has produced 390 original publications and 58 review articles and supervised 54 Ph.D. theses. 

Tribute to Professor Leena Peltonen-Palotie. 

Dr. Yoshiyuki Sakaki 
HUGO President 2002-2005

Dr. Yoshiyuki Sakaki was born in 1942 at Nagoya, Japan. He is the Professor of University of Tokyo, Institute of Medical Science, Human Genome Center and also the Project Director of Genomic Sciences Center at RIKEN. He has been heavily involved in the Human Genome Project and acted the Vice-President of HUGO (Human Genome Organization) (1996-2000), also the Representative of "Genome Science" Project, a five-year Human Genome Project of Monbusho, Japan. He has been the President of HUGO since April, 2002. His major interest is molecular biology of Down Syndrome and other neurological disorders. He recently completed the sequencing of chromosome 21 and is now particularly working for molecular pathogenesis of Down Syndrome. In addition, he identified a responsible gene for familial amyloidotic polyneuropathy (FAP) in 1984, and human biological clock gene "period" in 1997. Also his group demonstrated for the first time that human LINE-1 is a retro-transposon in 1986. He was awarded to "Chevalier" from France Government in August 2001, in recognition of his contribution to the scientific co-operation between France and Japan.

Professor Lap-Chee Tsui 
HUGO President 2000-2002

Professor Lap-Chee Tsui is Vice-Chancellor of the University of Hong Kong. Prior to his present appointment in September 2002, Professor Tsui was Geneticist-in-Chief and Head of the Genetics and Genomic Biology Program of the Research Institute, at The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. He was also the holder of the H.E. Sellers Chair in Cystic Fibrosis and University Professor at the University of Toronto. His research interest is to gain a better understanding of cystic fibrosis through mutation analysis, correlation of genotype with phenotype, and additional genetic loci that modulate the severity of the disease. He also leads the Hong Kong Group in contributing 2% of the international HapMap project.

Professor Gert-Jan van Ommen
HUGO President 1998-1999

Prof. Gert-Jan van Ommen is co-chairman of the Department of Human and Clinical Genetics, Leiden University Medical Center, The Netherlands. His major research areas are neuromuscular and neurodegenerative diseases (with focus on Duchenne muscular dystrophy and Huntington Disease); development and application of fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH) for disease study; genome research and diagnostic technology. Researchers of his department have contributed to the finding of the genes defective in Duchenne muscular dystrophy, Polycystic Kidney Disease, Rubinstein-Taybi syndrome, Familial Hemiplegic migraine and Episodic Ataxia; to the mapping and identification of the repeat-deletion mutations in Facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy, and to the development of several mutation detection techniques, amongst others the Protein Truncation Test (PTT) which is now widely used in colon and breast cancer diagnostics. He has strong interest in genome mapping, with a focus on the Xchromosome and chromosome 4. Prof. Van Ommen is past president of the Dutch Society of Human Genetics (1993-2000), past president (1998-1999) and current senior vice-president of the international Human Genome Organisation (HUGO), editor-in-chief of the European Journal of Human Genetics, and board member of the European Society of Human Genetics.

Professor Grant Sutherland 
HUGO President 1996-1997

Grant Sutherland is a graduate of the Universities of Melbourne and Edinburgh. He was for 27 years head of the Department of Cytogenetics and Molecular Genetics at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital, Adelaide, Australia and is now a WCH Foundation Research Fellow, and an Affiliate Professor in the Department of Paediatrics of the University of Adelaide. He has published two books and more than 450 papers since 1967. He has extensive experience in gene mapping and isolation, and is perhaps best known for his work on the fragile X and other fragile sites on human chromosomes. He is a past President of the Human Genetics Society of Australasia. He is or has been on the Editorial Boards of more than 20 international journals, including the leading journals of medical genetics in the UK, USA, Europe, China and Japan. He has significant involvement in the biotechnology industry. He is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science and of the Royal Society of London and an Honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia.

Professor Thomas Caskey
HUGO President 1993-1995

Dr. Caskey is Chief Executive Officer and President of Cogene Biotech Ventures, Ltd. He served as Senior Vice President, Human Genetics and Vaccines Discovery at Merck Research Laboratories, West Point, Pa. and President of the Merck Genome Research Institute. He serves as an adjunct professor at Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas. Dr. Caskey earned his medical doctorate from Duke University, Durham, NC. He has received numerous academic and industry-related honors. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and Institute of Medicine. He is Past President of American Society of Human Genetics and the Human Genome Organization. He served as Chair, Advisory Panel on Forensic Uses of DNA Tests, U.S. Congress Office of Technology Assessment, 1989-1990. He was a Committee Member on DNA Technology in Forensic Science, National Research Council, National Academy of Sciences, 1989-1991.

Sir Walter Bodmer FRS 
HUGO President 1991-1993

Walter Bodmer was born in 1936 in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, came to England at a very young age and went to Manchester Grammar School and Cambridge University where he studied mathematics. Having become fascinated with genetics, taught by R A Fishers as part of the mathematics course, in Cambridge, he did his PhD with Fisher in population genetics. He then went as a Post Doctoral fellow in 1961 to work with Joshua Lederberg at Stanford University and to learn molecular biology. While there, eventually as a member of the Faculty for eight years, he initiated the work with his wife , Julia Bodmer, and with Rose Payne , which contributed to the discovery of the HLA system, and also his long standing involvement with somatic cell genetics.

In 1970 Walter Bodmer returned to the UK to take up the chair of genetics at Oxford. In 1979 he left Oxford to become Director of Research at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund Laboratories in London and was appointed the first Director-General of the Fund in 1991. On retirement from the ICRF in 1996, he returned to Oxford University as Principal of Hertford college, and as head of the ICRF, now CRUK, Cancer and Immunogenetics laboratory at the Weatherall Institute of Molecular medicine.

Walter Bodmer was one of the first to suggest the idea of the Human Genome Project and was first a Vice- President, and then the second President of HUGO. He has made major contributions to human population genetics, somatic cell genetics, the development of the HLA system and more recently to cancer genetics, especially as applied to colorectal cancer.Walter Bodmer was elected FRS in 1974, Knighted in 1986 for his contributions to science, is a Foreign Associate of the US National Academy of sciences and is the recipient of more than 30 honorary degrees and memberships and fellowships of scientific and medical societies.

Professor Victor McKusick
HUGO President 1988-1991

Victor A. McKusick, M.D., the founder president of HUGO, is University Professor of Medical Genetics in Johns Hopkins University, where he has spent his entire professional career. In the early 1950s he developed the concept of heritable disorders of connective tissue on the basis of Marfan syndrome and related disorders. In 1957 he founded a pioneer medical genetics unit in the Johns Hopkins Hospital for research, teaching and exemplary patient care in the area of genetic disease. His studies of the Old Order Amish in the 1960s were a model for work in similar groups elsewhere. With Donahue et al. he assigned a specific gene to a specific autosome for the first time (1968). With Ruddle he organized annual or biennial international human gene mapping workshops beginning in 1973 for collation of the accumulating information. Some 700 genes or genetic phenotypes had been mapped to specific chromosomes by 1985-86 when the Human Genome Project was first formally discussed. In Sept. 1988, on the urging of colleagues, he convened a group of 31 geneticists and molecular biologists from 19 countries in Montreux, Switzerland, to organize HUGO. He was succeeded in the presidency by Bodmer. He is probably best known for Mendelian Inheritance in Man (a catalog of human genes and genetic disorders) and its internet version OMIM which he and his colleagues have maintained since the 1960s.

Tribute to Professor Victor A. McKusick.

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