Session Chair Profile

M.D., Ph.D., Chief Genomics Officer (CGO), UCSF Health

Biography
Dr. Aleksandar Rajkovic was the Professor and Marcus Allen Hogge Chair in Reproductive Sciences, the Director of the Division of Reproductive Genetics and Medical Director for the Pittsburgh Cytogenetic and Genomic Laboratories in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh. He recently moved to UCSF to be the Chief Genomics Officer. He serves as the Medical Director and Chief of the Center for Genetic and Genomic Medicine (CGGM) that organizes, coordinates and oversees Clinical Genetics and Genomics Services across the entire UCSF Health System. He is also Stuart Lindsay Distinguished Professor in Experimental Pathology I, member of the American Society of Clinical Investigation and American Association of Physicians. His research interests lie in basic and translational medical sciences in the area of reproductive genetics. Dr. Rajkovic discovered numerous genes that play critical roles in reproductive tract development, male and female infertility, and uterine tumors. He has been at the forefront of applying cutting edge genomic technologies to reproductive diagnostics, including prenatal diagnosis, preimplantation genetic screening, and perinatal genomics. He has made significant contributions to non-invasive diagnosis of submicroscopic deletions, design and utility of dense X chromosome arrays, and utility of genome wide detection of copy number variants in prenatal diagnosis. His current interests lie in whole genome applications towards population based health prediction and prevention, as well as elimination of Mendialian disorders.


 Session Abstract – PMWC Silicon Valley


Researchers have long been recognizing the uniqueness of women’s health and the substantial effect on clinical practice, acknowledging the increasing appreciation of the importance of multidisciplinary approaches to health and disease. In every organ system, there are diseases that are unique to women, more common in women than in men, or characterized by differences in disease course in women compared with men. This session will include the effect of women’s health on the following topics:

  • Preterm Birth & The Promise Of Biomarkers
    New “omics” assays that measure multiple biomarkers shed light on processes that lead to increased risk of preterm birth and generate biomarkers of risk of preterm birth that are useful for prediction. Those two applications (mechanism identification and prediction) could be useful for developing therapeutic targets, diagnostic tests, as well as identifying populations at particularly high risk in whom interventions might be most important.
    - Amy Murtha, UCSF
    - Larry Rand, UCSF
    - Stephen Quake, Stanford
  • NIPT
    Current non-invasive prenatal screening is targeted toward the detection of chromosomal abnormalities in the fetus, providing much higher test sensitivity and specificity than traditional maternal serum screening for trisomy 21, 18 and 13. New approaches for non-invasive prenatal sequencing are being developed to detect causative genes for frequent dominant monogentic diseases that can lead to significant adverse health outcomes. This will help guide physician and parent decisions for further evaluation and management of the pregnancy.
    - Brynn Levy, Columbia University
    - Bill Chang, Yourgene Health
  • Carrier Screening And Moving To Whole Genome
    Prenatal genetic carrier screening has changed rapidly over the past few decades, driven by advances in technology, increased awareness of rare inherited conditions and their impact on families, and increased availability of treatments for inherited rare diseases. As we move from screening only a limited number of variants in a small handful of conditions in only high-risk populations to screening many variants in a large number of genes across broad ancestry groups, the conditions and genes most appropriate for screening remain a matter of debate.
    - James Goldberg, Myriad
    - Jennifer Saucier, Natera
    - Nikica Zaninovic, Weill Cornell Medical College
    - Aimee Eyvazzadeh, Egg Whisperer
    - Margareta D. Pisarska, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center
  • Endometriosis
    This common, estrogen-dependent, inflammatory disease that is associated with a high prevalence of pelvic pain and reduced fertility in women remains challenging for clinicians, researchers, and those affected. A considerable heritable component to endometriosis risk has been established through both family- and population-based studies. New minimally invasive diagnostic methods are being developed to enable early intervention that might reduce suffering and expenses related to the disease.
    - Heather Bowerman, Dotlab
  • In Vitro Fertilization
    Despite continual advances in techniques and technology since the introduction of in vitro fertilization more than 40 years ago, this approach is successful in fewer than half of initiated cycles. Major advancements have been made in methods to improve oocyte quality in older women, new stimulation protocols that may improve the number of mature oocytes retrieved during in vitro fertilization cycle, pre-implantation genetic screening, and endometrial receptivity evaluation.
    - Akash Kumar, MyOme Inc.
  • Menopause and Early Predictors
    Current osteoporosis medications reduce fractures significantly but have rare and serious adverse effects that may limit their safety for long-term use. Insights from basic bone biology and genetic disorders have led to recent advances in therapeutics for osteoporosis. Combination and sequential treatments using osteoporosis medications with different mechanisms of action have also been tested with promising results. On the horizon is the potential for cell-based therapies and drugs that target the elimination of senescent cells in the bone microenvironment.
    - Marcelle Cedars, UCSF
  • Breast Cancer
    Advances in molecular pathology have led to a new understanding of existing cancer classification systems. Inter-tumoral heterogeneity remains a critical factor at the analysis of breast cancer molecular pathology, with vast variation at the genetic, cellular, morphological and microenvironmental levels. As few breast cancers are truly the same, precision therapy is critical to minimize overtreatment and treatment-associated morbidity, while preventing recurrence and progression.
    - Eleanor Harris, Case Western
    - George Sledge, Stanford
    - Barbara Cohn, Public Health Institute