Eberly College of Science

'Personalized Medicine: Are We There Yet?' lecture set for Feb. 9

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- A free public lecture titled "Personalized Medicine: Are We There Yet?" will take place at 11 a.m. Feb. 9, in 100 Thomas Building. The speaker will be Marylyn Ritchie, an associate professor of biochemistry and molecular biology and the director of the Center for Systems Genomics at Penn State.

The event is the fourth of six lectures in the 2013 Penn State Lectures on the Frontiers of Science, a free minicourse for the general public with the theme "Your Genes: How They Contribute to Who You Are." No registration is required. The lectures take place on six consecutive Saturday mornings from 11 a.m. to about 12:30 p.m. in 100 Thomas Building.

In her lecture, Ritchie will discuss the central goal of identifying genetic variation for complex human traits -- using genetic data for treatment and prevention of common disease. She will explain how far the science has come in recent years in the complex task of using genetic information for personalizing health care.

Ritchie's research focuses on identifying and analyzing genes that may increase susceptibility to common diseases such as cancer, diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular disease. To determine how such genes might influence disease susceptibility, Ritchie uses a variety of approaches that span the fields of biology, genetics and statistics. One of her primary approaches is to develop studies to detect interactions between genes, and to design and apply new statistical and computational methods to analyze data associated with such interactions. In addition, she explores possible interactions between genes and the environment, and studies how these interactions might increase disease susceptibility.

Before joining Penn State's Eberly College of Science, Ritchie was an associate professor in the Department of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics, and the Department of Biomedical Informatics at Vanderbilt University. While at Vanderbilt, she also served as an investigator in the Center for Human Genetics Research, where she directed the Computational Genomics Core and the Program in Computational Genomics. In addition, she has served as a consultant for Boehringer-Ingelheim, one of the world's leading pharmaceutical companies.

Ritchie has received many honors throughout her career. In 2010, she was awarded an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation fellowship, and in 2006, she received a Rising Young Investigator Award from the journal Genome Technology. In addition, she won a Best Paper Award at the Genetic and Evolutionary Computation Conference in 2004. She has published numerous papers in peer-reviewed journals such as American Journal of Human Genetics, the Journal of Biological Chemistry, Human Molecular Genetics, Bioinformatics and PlosONE. She is a member of several professional organizations including the American Society of Human Genetics and the American Statistical Association.

Ritchie received a doctoral degree in statistical genetics and a master's degree in applied statistics from Vanderbilt University in 2004 and 2002, respectively. She received a bachelor's degree from the University of Pittsburgh in 1999.

The Penn State Lectures on the Frontiers of Science is a program of the Penn State Eberly College of Science that is designed for the enjoyment and education of residents of the central Pennsylvania area and beyond. For more information or access assistance, contact the Eberly College of Science Office of Media Relations and Public Information by telephone at 814-863-8453 or by email at krd111@psu.edu. More information about the Penn State Lectures on the Frontiers of Science, including archived recordings of previous lectures and a list of other lectures in the 2013 series, is available at science.psu.edu/frontiers.


Marylyn Ritchie, associate professor of biochemistry and molecular biology, and the director of the Center for Systems Genomics at Penn State, will give a free public lecture Feb. 9. Credit: Penn StateCreative Commons

Last Updated January 09, 2015