This week’s Medicine Monday features esteemed molecular biologist Dr. Hemali Phatnani. A bridge between two long-standing grantee partners, Dr. Phatnani holds a joint appointment as an assistant professor at Columbia University and director of the Center for Genomics of Neurodegenerative Disease (CGND) at the New York Genome Center.
Dr. Phatnani’s early research at Duke University focused on the interactions between various cells involved in RNA transcription. Later, during her postdoctoral studies at Harvard and Columbia Universities, she developed a specialty in motor neuron diseases, leveraging genomic profiling and stem cells to examine the root causes of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
In 2014, Dr. Phatnani joined the New York Genome Center (NYGC) as director of the CGND. Believing in the importance of collaboration, Dr. Phatnani led the launch of the NYGC ALS Consortium, a partnership of clinicians, scientists, geneticists, and computational biologists from 38 institutions across the globe.
It was in this spirit of collaboration that Dr. Phatnani joined the faculty at Columbia University in 2019 as an assistant professor of neurological sciences and scholar in the Columbia Translational Neuroscience Initiative.
Today, Dr. Phatnani uses state-of-the-art genomics and bioinformatics technology to study the cellular pathology of ALS. The goal of her work is to explain how changes to our DNA affect the interactions between cells in ALS-infected spinal cords.