Leadership

Joshua L. LaBaer, M.D., Ph.D., a leading researcher in cancer and personalized medicine, has been appointed as the executive director for the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University, effective April 1, 2017.

Joshua LaBaer is one of the nation’s foremost investigators in the rapidly expanding field of personalized medicine. His efforts involve the discovery and validation of biomarkers — unique molecular fingerprints of disease — that can provide early warning for those at risk of major illnesses, including cancer and diabetes.

LaBaer will maintain his current role as director of Biodesign’s Virginia G. Piper Center for Personalized Diagnostics, where he leads a staff of nearly 100 faculty and biologists, microbiologists, engineers, informaticists and students who combine their expertise to find ways to decrease the impact of human disease. As director, he holds the university’s first Piper Chair in Personalized Medicine.

An organizing principle of the center is the application of open reading frame clones to the high throughput study of protein function.  LaBaer was an early initiator and leader of the effort to build fully sequence-verified recombination-based clone sets for human genes and other model organisms now managed in an automated repository with more than 250,000 samples, which are openly shared with the scientific community.  His laboratory has developed a number of methods to employ these clones, including HT protein expression and purification, and HT screens of ectopic protein expression in mammalian cells for relevant phenotypes.

His group invented a novel protein microarray technology, Nucleic Acid Programmable Protein Array, which has been used widely for biomedical research, including the recent discovery of a panel of 28 autoantibody biomarkers that may aid the early diagnosis of breast cancer.

He is a founding member and the current president of the U.S. Human Proteome Organization, and spearheaded ASU efforts to host its annual national meeting in 2015. He also serves on a number of government and industry scientific advisory boards. LaBaer earned his medical degree and a doctorate in biochemistry and biophysics, from the University of California, San Francisco. He is a board certified physician in internal medicine and medical oncology.