Ting Wang, PhD, a national leader in genetics and genomics who has led groundbreaking studies in how the genome is regulated, has been named head of the Department of Genetics at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. A computational biologist, he will begin his new role Aug. 1.
Wang’s lab is focused on understanding how genes are regulated in normal states, including early development, and in diseases, such as cancer. He is an expert in understanding transposable elements — short sections of the genome, many of viral origin, that have changed position in the genome over the long course of human evolution. His work has uncovered how transposable elements affect the epigenome. The epigenome includes the 3D structure of the genome and chemical modifications to the genome, which together control how genes are expressed and to what degree.
Wang, the Sanford C. and Karen P. Loewentheil Distinguished Professor of Medicine in the Department of Genetics, is well known for his leadership roles in major genomics projects supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Wang co-leads the Human Pangenome Reference Consortium, which will provide a new generation of reference human genomes that are sequenced to completion and represent global genetic diversity. The project, funded by the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), stands to redefine genetic variations in populations as well as in association with diseases. This project reflects the history and critical role the department has played in the Human Genome Project, the national effort to sequence the human genome. Wang now serves on the scientific counsel of Washington University’s McDonnell Genome Institute, which provided about 25% of the data for the original sequence and continues to serve as a leading national genome sequencing center.
“Dr. Wang was the unanimous selection by our search committee and was enthusiastically endorsed by the executive and departmental faculty,” said David H. Perlmutter, MD, executive vice chancellor for medical affairs, the George and Carol Bauer Dean of the School of Medicine, and the Spencer T. and Ann W. Olin Distinguished Professor. “Many commented on his unique experiences in our research environment and his passion and energy for advancing the growing opportunities in the field of genetics. Our Department of Genetics has a long track record of leadership in the field, and Dr. Wang is our top choice for continuing that legacy of excellence.”