Announcing the Establishment of the Penn Center for Global Genomics and Health Equity

July 22, 2019

To:Penn Medicine Faculty, Students, and Staff

From:J. Larry Jameson, MD, PhD
Executive Vice President, University of Pennsylvania for the Health System
Dean, Perelman School of Medicine

Jonathan A. Epstein, MD
Executive Vice Dean and Chief Scientific Officer

We are excited to announce the creation of the Penn Center for Global Genomics and Health Equity (Penn Global Genomics, PGG), under the leadership of founding director Sarah Tishkoff, PhD. The PGG will position Penn as an international leader in research and training in global genomics, genomic diversity and health disparities.

Health care disparities are among the most complex issues facing researchers, physicians, and policymakers today.  There is increased focus on the impact of genomics on improving disease treatment and prevention, yet nearly 80% of individuals included in genomic studies of disease risk are of European ancestry; merely 2% are of African ancestry and 1% of Hispanic ancestry.  This lack of inclusion of ethnically diverse populations impedes research and misinforms clinical practice and public health policy.

PGG seeks to facilitate integrative genomics research of under-represented populations and diseases through interdisciplinary collaborations, community partnerships, and education.  Working closely with schools and centers across Penn’s campus as well as global research institutions, PGG aims to generate scientific knowledge and translate this knowledge into public policy and clinical practice that will improve health care for ethnically diverse individuals and promote health equity. 

Dr. Tishkoff, the David and Lyn Silfen University Professor in Genetics and Biology, is an international leader in human evolutionary genetics, with a focus on identifying genetic factors influencing variable traits, including disease risk, in ethnically diverse African populations.  She is a Penn Integrates Knowledge endowed chair, holding appointments in the Perelman School of Medicine and the School of Arts and Sciences.  Dr. Tishkoff was elected to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) in 2017 and serves on the NAS Board of Global Health.  In addition, she is a member of the Scientific Advisory Panel for the Packard Fellowships for Science and Engineering and serves on the editorial board of several leading journals, including PLOS Genetics, Genome Research, and G3 (Genes, Genomes, and Genetics)

Please join us in congratulating Dr. Tishkoff on the establishment of the Penn Center for Global Genomics and Health Equity, and in wishing the PGG continued success in advancing the field of global genomics and health equity.