​Precision Medicine Pathway

Precision medicine (also called personalized or genomic medicine) – clinical care based on knowledge of patient-specific genome variation – utilizes the genetic/genomic changes as key elements in defining disease and determining treatment.  While in certain cases genetic- and genomic-based diagnoses and treatments are in use, for many diseases significant challenges remain to be overcome to make the routine practice of precision medicine a reality.  These challenges include: determining whether sequence variation is medically relevant (pathogenic); achieving comprehensive phenotypic characterization in standardized formats; developing therapeutic approaches specific to pathogenic variation while minimizing unwanted side-effects; determining whether genetic/genomic information affects overall patient outcomes; and resolving policy & ethical issues related to reporting and delivery of genomic information to clinicians, patients and their family.

The  Precision Medicine Pathway (previously called the Genetics & Genomics of Disease Pathway) will prepare students to be at the forefront of meeting the challenges in defining and implementing precision medicine.  The Pathway will introduce students to the use of genomic and genetic information in the diagnosis and treatment of disease, from covering current concepts and practice to identifying gaps that remain to be filled.  The Pathway will (a) expand students’ educational experience into the clinical realm; (b) facilitate making clinical connections related to thesis research, where relevant; (c) provide career path information, from introducing potential areas for postdoctoral research to alternatives to the traditional Principle Investigator track.


The Pathway is available to graduate students in the 2nd and 3rd year who have knowledge in genetics, genomics and bioinformatics, in most cases through the Division of Biological and Biomedical Science Programs - Human Statistical Genetics, Computational Systems Biology, and Molecular Genetics & Genomics.  This knowledge base will allow lectures and discussions to be at an advanced level in genetics and genomics, highlighting clinical aspects.   

We will accept up to 10 students annually. 

The Pathway includes the following components:

I) Genetics & Genomics of Disease Course

Bio 5487, Fall, years 1 & 2, Monday & Wednesday, 3:00 – 5:00.. 
Topics include
     a) Bioinformatic assessment of sequence variation as deleterious and clinical assessment as pathogenic
     b) Gene panels, exome/whole genome analysis
     c) Mendelian disease
     d) Complex disease
     e) Cancer
     f ) Infectious disease
     g) Ethical and policy issues
     h) Career possibilities

II) Human Genetics Journal Club

Friday, 3:00 – 4:00, every other week
Journal club presentation in year 2

III) Clinical Connections

 a) Attend recurring clinical conferences at the Medical School (1 per month)
     - Genomics Tumor Board (3rd Thursday each month)
     - Pediatric genetics conference (every Monday)
b) Shadow a clinician (spring year 1- year 2)
     Students will pair with a clinically active faculty member whose practice involves patients with genetically/ genomically based disease. 
c) Clinical mentored project (year 2)  [Optional]
     A circumscribed bioinformatic project will be carried out with a clinical mentor on a patient case or area of mutual interest.  The project will provide a student with a more in depth exposure to patient specific data and its analysis, and has the potential to result in novel publishable findings.  As such projects will usually be unrelated to the students thesis work, they must be limited in duration (up 40 hrs), and thoughtfully chosen in consultation with the clinical mentor, Pathway co-directors and student’s thesis mentor.  

IV) Annual educational retreat

October 27, 2016
Keynote speaker-Teri Manolio (NHGRI)
Presentation by students in the second year of the Pathway (either on Clinical mentored project or Thesis research)

For additional information on this Pathway see –  http://PMPathway.wustl.edu

Application Process

Students applying in year 1 must be good academic standing. 
Students applying in year 2 must have completed the Program-specific qualifying exam. 
Students are encouraged to have completed one or more of the following courses: Genomics (Bio 5488), Advanced Genetics (Bio 5491) or Fundamentals of Mammalian Genetics (Bio 5285), however all interested students should apply.    
- Name, birth date, address, academic program and year and citizenship.  
- Contact information (e-mail and telephone)
- PI in which thesis work is being conducted
- CV or resume (include a list of graduate courses taken and grade)
- Paragraph description of why the student is interested in the Pathway
- Paragraph description of thesis research.* 
- Assemble these components into a single PDF, and send to
- Two letters of recommendation, one of which is from the thesis advisor*, should be sent directly to
*If you have not yet joined a thesis laboratory then a rotation lab project and a rotation advisor can be used as a substitute.
All application material should be submitted by June 15, 2017, to
Applications will be reviewed by the Pathway Co-directors, Tim Schedl (Genetics), Chris Gurnett (Neurology) and John Welch (Medicine).

For questions about the Pathway, contact pmpathway@genetics.wustl.edu

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