Russ B. Altman, MD, PhD
Kenneth Fong Professor of
Bioengineering, Genetics, Medicine & Computer
Stanford University, Schools
of Engineering & Medicine
ASHG: If you could go back to when you were a trainee, what is one
piece of advice you would give yourself for your current
Dr. Altman: Learn as much mathematics as
you can. It has always been critical for probability,
statistics, computer science, and engineering. It is now
critical for biology and medicine.
ASHG: What are your favorite and least
favorite parts of your job?
Dr. Altman: Favorite - interacting with
students and post-docs in the classroom or 1:1 on research
Least favorite - mandatory training for the
purposes of compliance with federal, state, local rules.
These are meritorious topics (conflict of interest, privacy,
safe workplace, respectful workplace), but mandatory
training sessions tempt me to consider becoming a felon.
ASHG: What do you think the future holds
for the field of genetics?
Dr. Altman: Human genetics is going to have
to get better at including environment in its attempts to
explain human traits, diseases, phenotypes. I wonder if it
will or will it cede this exciting frontier to another
field, thus losing a great opportunity to create grand
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