Joshua LaBaer is the executive director of the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University. He is one of the nation’s foremost investigators in the rapidly expanding field of personalized diagnostics. His efforts focus on the discovery and validation of biomarkers—unique molecular fingerprints of disease—which can provide early warning for those at risk of major illnesses, including cancer and diabetes. Formerly founder and director of the Harvard Institute of Proteomics, LaBaer was recruited to ASU’s Biodesign Institute as the first Piper Chair in Personalized Medicine in 2009.
In response to the coronavirus pandemic, LaBaer used his proven capability in diagnostics to repurpose existing equipment and personnel to accelerate testing. The new ASU Biodesign Clinical Testing Laboratory developed a diagnostic test under FDA emergency use authorization, based on qPCR technology, to detect coronavirus for individuals who may have been exposed. This new lab gained CLIA certification initially for testing nasopharyngeal swab samples and then became the first in the USA to offer and run public saliva tests for coronavirus.
LaBaer received the Jon W. McGarity Arizona Bioscience Leader of the Year Award by AZBio in 2020, for his ability to bring teams together to address the world’s greatest health challenges. Under his leadership, the Biodesign Institute won Innovator of the Year – Academia at the Arizona Governor’s Celebration of Innovation Awards 2020.
LaBaer earned his medical degree and a doctorate in biochemistry and biophysics, from the University of California, San Francisco. He completed his medical residency at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital and a clinical fellowship in oncology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, both in Boston. He has contributed more than 250 original research publications, reviews and chapters. LaBaer is an associate editor of the Journal of Proteome Research, a recent member of the National Cancer Institute’s Board of Scientific Advisors, Chair of the Early Detection Research Network Steering Committee and recent president of the U.S. Human Proteome Organization.