Elaine Mardis Co-Executive Director
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Cancer Research

Prof. Elaine Mardis

Co-Executive Director, Institute for Genomic Medicine, Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Columbus, Ohio, USA

Prof. Elaine Mardis is also Professor of Pediatrics at the Ohio State University College of Medicine. Prof. Mardis was President of the AACR in 2019–20. She has research interests in the application of genomic technologies to improving our understanding of human disease, and toward improving the precision of medical diagnosis, prognosis and treatment. She devised methods and automation that contributed to the Human Genome Project and has since played key roles in the 1000 Genomes Project, The Cancer Genome Atlas, and the Pediatric Cancer Genome Project.

Cancer research is important to me because …

I feel a connection to something that has the potential to impact the lives of others. The sense of purpose is so strong, and it is a continual motivator.

The person who inspired me most in my career was …

Each of our patients. I’m constantly inspired by cancer patients, especially our pediatric patients, and their families. Their inspiration makes me want to work even harder to find answers that will help them to win against this horrible disease.

If I were starting my career again …

The only thing I would change is that I would have studied bioinformatics more diligently.

The happiest moment in my scientific career was …

That’s difficult. There have been so many! I think one happy moment was publishing the first cancer genome sequenced by next generation sequencing in Nature 2008. I was also really happy about my election to the National Academy of Medicine in 2019.

The most important publication in cancer research is …

The wealth of important papers in cancer research is incredible ... there cannot be just one.

The most important research breakthrough is …

As a person who has spent their entire career in team science, I don’t think of ”my” research breakthroughs, honestly. I personally value the early work I did in breast cancer and AML genomics, and the early work I was able to do in immunogenomics as highlights. They were all made possible by outstanding collaborators.

The most important advancement in cancer research that must happen in the next five years …

I think we need to begin to implement blood-based early detection of cancer, and monitoring of treatment response by liquid biopsy in the next five years, for people with susceptibility to develop cancer based on genetics, family history or age. I also feel we need to achieve the same level of genomic profiling and use of targeted and immunotherapies in our pediatric cancer patients as has been achieved in adults.

How societies should change over the next 10 years to help control and prevent cancer …

Ideally, we need to decrease the environmental contributors to cancer, such as air pollution, smoking, and sun exposure. And encourage healthy lifestyles by promoting exercise and decreased obesity. Prevention is key and there are a lot of cancers that can be prevented by adopting lifestyle changes that will have health benefits beyond cancer prevention. Finally, I hope we can find ways to broaden access for all patients. And to experience the dramatic progress we’ve made in the past few years in terms of diagnosis and treatment of cancer.

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“I’m constantly inspired by cancer patients, especially our pediatric patients, and their families. Their inspiration makes me want to work even harder to find answers that will help them to win against this horrible disease.”
Prof. Elaine Mardis
How new technologies are changing cancer research.
Dr. Elaine Mardis talks about technological hurdles for bringing cancer research discoveries into medical practice, and the prospect of turning cancer into a chronic disease.

I would recommend to young scientists …

Get as much experience in scientific research as you can. Read, read, read! And ask questions!

I want to be remembered for …

I hope I’m remembered for being a person of integrity, who was a strong collaborator and who made a difference in some small way to progress in understanding cancer.

Prof. Elaine Mardis

Professor Elaine Mardis is the Co-Executive Director of the Institute for Genomic Medicine at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, OH. She is the former Robert E. and Louise F. Dunn Distinguished Professor of Medicine at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, MO, where she was on the faculty for 22 years. joined QIAGEN’s Supervisory Board and its Science and Technology Committee in 2014. Prior to joining the Washington University faculty, she was a senior research scientist at BioRad Laboratories in Hercules, CA. Prof. Mardis has scientific advisory roles at PACT Pharma LLC, and Scorpion Therapeutics LLC, and she serves on the scientific advisory council of The Mark Foundation for Cancer Research. She was elected to membership in the National Academy of Medicine (U.S.) in 2019, and is a Fellow of the American Association for Cancer Research Academy.

Thank you!

On behalf of Prof. Elaine Mardis, QIAGEN has donated 500 euros to the DKMS (an organization that arranges stem cell donation in Germany and internationally) to support them in their fight against blood cancer.

For more information, or to register as a potential donor, visit www.dkms.org.

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