Prominent Yeast Geneticist Joins PNDRI as Principal Investigator

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Aimée Dudley, Ph.D., brings foundational science to strengthen the diabetes-focused mission


Seattle December 4, 2013 -- Aimée Dudley, Ph.D. recently joined Pacific Northwest Diabetes Research Institute (PNDRI) as the organization’s eighth Principal Investigator. Dr. Dudley has a Ph.D. in genetics from Harvard Medical School and is a nationally recognized expert in yeast genetics and genomics. She comes to PNDRI from the Institute of Systems Biology where she was an Assistant Professor.

Dr. Dudley’s research resides at the center of the emerging field of “systems genetics”, an approach that integrates high throughput technologies with classical genetics to address key biological problems. The lab uses yeast as a model system to understand how genetic and environmental factors influence complex traits. The goal is to develop methods that can be applied to clinically relevant traits in humans, such as the propensity for disease and response to treatment.

“Yeast has almost all the same genes as people,” Dr. Dudley said, “but you can perform experiments rapidly and manipulate it in ways that just aren’t possible in the human system. That’s why it is used in basic research like the work for which Dr. Randy Schekman shared this year’s Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine. There are great opportunities to use genetics not only to better understand how diseases are caused, but also how they can be treated or cured.”

The recruitment of Dr. Dudley to PNDRI, a diabetes-focused institute, is part of a long-term vision and strategy. “We are generating research-driven insights into diabetes by coupling foundational scientific approaches with diabetes-specific expertise,” said PNDRI President and CEO John Wecker, Ph.D. “Aimée brings complementary expertise that strengthens PNDRI’s core science capabilities. She is a natural fit for the Institute and our mission.”

“Diabetes lends itself well to the broad range of genetic methods that we are developing,” said Dr. Dudley. “It’s not a single disease but a collection of diseases ranging from types of neonatal diabetes caused by mutations in a single gene to type 2 diabetes which has a very complex combination of genetic and environmental factors. It’s a problem that is interesting and very exciting.”

Dr. Dudley is an affiliate faculty member in the Department of Genome Sciences at the University of Washington. Previously, she was an Assistant Professor at the Institute of Systems Biology and a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard Medical School. Her research has led to the development of breakthrough methodologies, including a patented method for conducting high throughput analysis of genetic data.