B.Sc., Brown University
Haplotype-based Association Studies: Approaches to Current Challenges
presented by Derek Gordon (on behalf of Jürg Ott)
It is my great honor to represent Jürg Ott in introducing Mark Levenstien. Mark was born and raised in Madison, New Jersey, where he graduated as valedictorian from his high school. Mark later graduated summa cum laude from Brown University in biomedical engineering. After a brief stint in industry, Mark joined Dr. Ott’s laboratory in 2000, later becoming his graduate student. Mark’s research focused on statistical methods for disease gene mapping. Specifically, Mark considered haplotyping methods. Haplotypes are sets of closely linked genetic landmarks present on a chromosome. Information on haplotypes is used to localize genes influencing disease. However, haplotypes are not directly observable and are often reconstructed statistically. In his thesis, Mark documented that choosing haplotypes statistically can lead to incorrect evidence, thus leading researchers down incorrect paths when trying to identify the true disease genes. Mark suggested several guidelines to enable researchers to increase the probability of correctly mapping disease genes.
In addition to his outstanding work, Mark is a person of exceptional character. He is extremely generous and is unwavering in his ability to listen to others’ ideas. Mark graciously included me as a co-author on a key paper, and helped me numerous times with my own research. I am proud to call him a valued colleague and trusted friend.
The next generation
In September, twenty new scientist-hopefuls will fill the gap left by this year’s graduates. Of an initial pool of 590 applicants, 12.5 percent were accepted, a number whittled down over the winter months by a screening committee overseen by the Dean’s Office and including Sean Brady, Hironori Funabiki, Charles Gilbert, Magda Konarska, James Krueger, Christian Münz, Eric Siggia, Erec Stebbins and Leslie Vosshall.
“We’ve chosen students in whom a certain quality really stands out: an intense scientific curiosity, an enthusiasm that results in a high level of commitment to research,” says Emily Harms, assistant dean.
Next year’s new students include 10 women and 10 men, from 10 countries: Argentina, Canada, Germany, Italy, Russia, Singapore, Sweden, Taiwan, the United Kingdom and the United States. Their alma maters include: Barnard College, Columbia University, Harvey Mudd College, Indiana University, Princeton University, Rhodes College, the Royal Institute of Technology (Sweden), San Raffaele University, the Technical University of Munich, the University of Bologna, the University of California, San Diego, the University of Cambridge, the University of Chicago, the University of Maryland, the University of Miami, the University of Oxford, the University of Pisa, the University of Tübingen, the University of Victoria and the University of Wisconsin, Madison.