Valdosta Daily Times

Local News

February 16, 2014

Noted geneticist to speak at VSU

VALDOSTA — Geneticist Michael Snyder has charted the world of self, improved his life in the process, and will likely better the lives of others in the years to come.

The noted Stanford University molecular geneticist analyzed his blood 20 times, according to an article in Science Now. Snyder was able to chart the biochemical information of his immune system, metabolism and gene activity.

As Science Now reporter Jon Cohen noted, if a regular visit to the doctor’s office is a snapshot of a person’s health, Snyder’s tests were an IMAX movie, “charting his response to two viral infections and the emergence of type 2 diabetes.”

Not only is Snyder’s work considered a landmark study of how medicine can be personalized for each specific patient but the diabetes warning led him to change his lifestyle. He altered his diet and increased his exercise which returned his glucose levels to normal.

This week, Snyder is expected to discuss his work as the speaker in the 32nd Annual Clyde Eugene Connell Visiting Lecture Program, which is the premier event for the Valdosta State University biology department.

In recent years, the Connell Lecture has presented experts on Neanderthals, sea turtles, and now the power of present and future genetics. VSU’s Dr. David Bechler said the Snyder speech will follow in the Connell Lecture’s traditions.

Snyder is the chair of Stanford’s genetics department and the university’s Center of Genomics and Personalized Medicine.    

“During his lecture, Professor Snyder will discuss how the genome

sequence information of each individual could be exploited to assess disease risk and tailor more effective therapies to the genetic background of a specific patient,” according to VSU.

While it sounds like something from an old science fiction tale, a la Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Snyder has said in interviews that he believed himself to be the best subject for his study because he needed someone close, accessible, and who was willing to continue the analysis no matter the findings. Unlike Jekyll’s Hyde, Snyder’s work uncovered information that led him to save his life.

He believes such studies can better and save other lives.

As Snyder told Science Now, “The way we’re practicing medicine now seems woefully inadequate. When you go to the doctor’s office and they do a blood test, they typically measure no more than 20 things. With the technology out there now, we feel you should be able to measure thousands if not tens of thousands if not ultimately millions of things. That would be a much clearer picture of what’s going on.”

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