Speaker Profile

For Pharmacogenomics: Pioneer in large scale bio-banking, enabling deep exploration of the genetic causes of disease

M.D., Sr. VP for Personalized Medicine, Vanderbilt University Medical Center; Professor of Medicine, Pharmacology and Biomedical Informatics at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine

In 2003, Dan Roden, MD, then director of the Division of Clinical Pharmacology at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, imagined a large-scale biobank integrated with electronic health records to help doctors “personalize” medical care for their patients. That vision became BioVU, today one of the world’s largest bio-banks, with around 350,000 DNA samples from a single health care system. In its 15th year, BioVU has enabled hundreds of studies and publications exploring the genetic underpinnings of a host of conditions including cancer, heart disease and diabetes. Since joining the Vanderbilt faculty in 1981, Dr. Roden has become internationally recognized for his studies of the mechanisms and treatment of abnormal heart rhythms and variability in drug response. One major interest has been pharmacogenomics, and especially the role genetic variations play in adverse drug reactions such as drug-induced arrhythmias. He directed the Division of Clinical Pharmacology from 1992 to 2004 when he became founding director of the Oates Institute for Experimental Therapeutics. In 2016, a concerted effort was made to obtain genotyping data from a large cohort of the BioVU samples. About 90,000 samples were genotyped. VUMC-affiliated researchers now can study BioVU samples, often without the need for additional genotyping. Researchers can look through the de-identified version of the EHR and request that certain samples be genotyped. Researchers pay for the cost of new genotyping only, and they agree to make the genetic information they gather available to BioVU for other researchers to access in the future. Dr. Roden is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation and the Association of American Physicians, as well as a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Roden has authored more than 700 peer-reviewed scientific papers. He is a leader in VUMC’s PREDICT project (Pharmacogenomic Resource for Enhanced Decisions in Care and Treatment), which since 2010 has applied genomic testing to drug prescribing, in an effort to avoid adverse drug reactions. He co-directed the Vanderbilt site of the Pharmacogenetics Research Network funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) 2001-2021, and is co-principal investigator for the VUMC site of the NIH Electronic Medical Records and Genomics (eMERGE) Network and the NIH All of Us program’s Data and Research Center. Dr. Roden received his medical degree from McGill University and undertook Fellowships in both Clinical Pharmacology and Cardiology at Vanderbilt