Professor David Goldstein to lead AstraZeneca’s genomics initiative as Chief Adviser

AstraZeneca is pleased to announce that Professor David Goldstein will join the Company in the consultative role of Chief Adviser, Genomics to lead its integrated genomics initiative, which was announced in April. This 10-year initiative will focus on the discovery of new targets and biomarkers linked to molecular mechanisms of disease across AstraZeneca’s main therapy areas.

Professor Goldstein will continue in his full-time role as Director of the Institute for Genomic Medicine, John E. Borne Professor and Professor of Genetics and Development at Columbia University Medical Center. He is renowned for his research on human genetic diversity, the genetics of disease and pharmacogenetics and will be responsible for driving the scientific progress of AstraZeneca’s genomics initiative, created to transform drug discovery and development across the entire research and development pipeline.

Genomics is the study of the genome, which provides the full set of instructions needed to make every cell, tissue and organ in our bodies. In humans, the entire genome (more than three billion DNA base pairs) includes all of the genes that code for proteins and define our characteristics. Although most of the information in the genome is the same between individuals, there are small differences, which scientists believe can combine with environmental influences to cause diseases such as diabetes, asthma or cancer. Studying genome sequences across large populations allows us to develop innovative new treatments and target the right patients to the right medicines.

Working across the company’s oncology, cardiovascular and metabolic diseases and respiratory and autoimmune pipelines, Professor Goldstein’s early emphasis will be on bringing genomic understanding to the disease targets being explored by AstraZeneca. He is also tasked with building the company’s genomics expertise and capabilities and ensuring “good judgement” when evaluating genomics data in relation to drug discovery. “The literature is a very busy and complicated area…” says Professor Goldstein “…and we need to learn to recognise what is both relevant and reliable to advancing drug discovery. Learning how to discriminate is a critical part of genomics research.”

AstraZeneca has placed genomics at the centre of its strategy for researching and developing medicines that will change the lives of patients around the world. Having served as the Chair of the company’s genomics advisory panel since 2015, I’m now excited to take on this important role and lead the implementation of the panel’s recommendations. One of my first tasks is to establish a world-leading team to execute AstraZeneca’s ambitious genomics approach across its pipeline.

David Goldstein

Professor Goldstein will work at the Company’s new Centre for Genomics Research in Cambridge, UK, to be located within its new global headquarters. Partnerships are key to the company’s genomics approach and the company currently partners with Human Longevity Inc, the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and Finland’s Institute for Molecular Medicine. “Genomics is really a field that is being defined in the academic community so if you want to do it well, you need to stay connected to academia and this is one of the attractive aspects of AstraZeneca’s initiative,” says Professor Goldstein.

Professor Goldstein received his PhD in biological sciences from Stanford University in 1994 and has previously held positions at University College London and Duke University, North Carolina. He has published over 250 papers in the field and is a recipient of the Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award.

Mene Pangalos, Executive Vice President, Innovative Medicines and Early Development and Global Business Development at AstraZeneca, said: “We’re delighted to welcome David to AstraZeneca at a very exciting time for our company and the rapidly evolving field of genomics. Our ambition is to develop life-changing treatments for patients and our genomics strategy is at the heart of this. David is a world-renowned expert in genomics, and his expertise will help to accelerate the integration of genomics across our entire research and development pipeline.”

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