Career Interview: Heidi Rehm, PhD

Associate Professor of Pathology, Brigham & Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School
Chief Laboratory Director, Partners Healthcare

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 career?

Dr. Rehm: If I could go back to my days as a trainee, I would allocate more time in my education for learning bioinformatics and statistics. These skills are critical in the era of genomics and the evaluation of evidence for a gene or variant’s role in disease.

ASHG: What are your favorite and least favorite parts of your job?

Dr. Rehm: My least favorite part of my job is sleep deprivation. There is just too much to do in the fast-moving world of genomics and not enough time to do it!

My favorite part is watching how quickly we are making a difference in the lives of patients with advances our field makes everyday. With many new projects focused on worldwide activities and data sharing to advance our understanding of health and disease I see a global community joining together.

This allows us all to move ahead faster by reducing redundancy and bringing larger data sets together to enable discoveries that could not happen when data sits in silos. It’s fun to meet new people, share ideas and make progress together.

ASHG: What do you think the future holds for the field of genetics?

Dr. Rehm: I look ahead to a time when we will have deciphered all of the causes of disorders with a genetic basis and are able to effectively treat, manage and often prevent the morbidity and mortality associated with rare disorders. I also look to a future where our genomes not only inform those with rare disease, but offers risk prediction that actually makes a difference in how we manage our health. This will be facilitated by supporting a healthcare environment that guides all physicians in the use of genomics and supports continuous learning models and better standards for healthcare as a whole.

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