Harvard PGP staff members

George ChurchGeorge Church

Principal Investigator

George Church, PhD is the principal investigator, founder and guinea pig #1 of the Personal Genome Project (PGP) research study based at Harvard Medical School. He is also Professor of Genetics, Harvard Medical School, Wyss Institute, Director of the Center for Computational Genetics, and Director of the NIH Center for Excellence in Genomic Science (on human genome engineering). He is a member of the NAS and NAE and Franklin Laureate for Achievement in Science.

Jeantine LunshofJeantine Lunshof

Ethics Consultant

Jeantine E. Lunshof, PhD is a philosopher and bioethicist, Ethics Consultant to the Personal Genome Project and to the Center for Excellence in Genomic Science – CCV. Together with Dan Vorhaus and George Church she developed in 2006 the model of “open consent” that forms the normative backbone of the PGP. Jeantine recently received a prestigious Marie Curie Fellowship from the European Commission to pursue a research program on systems biology-based concepts of health and disease, and the development of a systems approach for ethics.

Alexander Wait ZaranekAlexander Wait Zaranek

Co-Director of Informatics

Alexander (Sasha) Wait Zaranek, PhD is Co-Director of Informatics at the Harvard PGP. Sasha works on open technologies that are part of the revolution that reduced human DNA sequencing costs by a million-fold since the completion of the Human Genome Project. A current research focus is the development of clinical-quality applications for processing massive data sets spanning millions of individuals across collaborating organizations, eventually encompassing exabytes of data. His contributions have led to highly-cited publications in Science, Nature, the Lancet and other leading scientific journals. Sasha is also a cofounder of Curoverse, a venture-backed company focused on building a platform for storing and analyzing biomedical data.

Sarah Wait Zaranek

Co-Director of Informatics

Sarah Wait Zaranek, PhD is Co-Director of Informatics at the Harvard PGP. She is also CEO and Chief Scientist at Curii Corporation. Sarah’s research focus is machine learning in very large genomic medicine cohorts. Sarah has been in the scientific computing field for over 20 years and has extensive expertise in genomics, big data, parallel computing, and machine learning. She is interested in developing representative cohorts that include individuals that are traditionally underrepresented in genomics to help ensure healthcare can be personalized for everyone. Sarah also strives to make science and software development more open and diverse.

Pete EstepPete Estep

Director of Collections & Director of Gerontology

Preston W. (Pete) Estep, PhD is Director of Gerontology and Director of Collections for the Personal Genome Project. Dr. Estep is also a Founder and Chief Scientific Officer of Veritas.  He has invented a variety of chemical and molecular technologies, including the saliva collection chemistry and kit used in PGP saliva collections. He has founded and is a current or past adviser to many cutting edge biotech companies and non-profit organizations. Originally trained as a neuroscientist before moving to genome science, Dr. Estep’s research interests include cognition, aging and senescence, and the science and ethics of human life extension and cognitive enhancement.

Ward VandewegeWard Vandewege

Systems Architect

Ward Vandewege, MSc is systems architect at the Harvard Personal Genomes Project. Ward wrote a large part of Tapestry, the software that participants use to interact with the project. Ward is also VP Software Engineering at Veritas Genetics, where he leads the Arvados and production bio-informatics teams. Ward joined Veritas Genetics via the acquisition of Curoverse, a company he co-founded where he was CTO. Prior to Curoverse, Ward was CTO at the Free Software Foundation.

Tom CleggTom Clegg

Software Engineer and Developer

Tom Clegg is a software engineer and developer, tool builder and optimizer. Since 2006 he has led informatics development for the PGP, solving problems from big data storage to variant interpretation. His background includes theoretical computer science, lab and factory automation, web infrastructure, and teaching.

Michael ChouMichael Chou

Director of Human Subjects Research

Michael F. Chou, PhD is a Lecturer in Genetics at Harvard Medical School, and also the Director of Human Subjects Research for the Harvard Personal Genome Project. Dr. Chou’s research focus is on the development of genomic sequencing approaches to understand rare neurogenetic diseases. In his present research, he is using next-generation sequencing to identify known and novel genetic causes of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease).

Elaine LimTengting (Elaine) Lim

Scientist/Project Leader

Tengting (Elaine) Lim, PhD is a postdoctoral fellow at the Department of Genetics as Harvard Medical School. Elaine’s research focus is on the discovery of genes that influences diseases of the brain. Currently, Elaine’s research focuses on the use of cerebral organoids to model neurological diseases such as Austism, Schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s. Elaine also co-leads the PGP Scoring and Ranking project as well as the PGP-Lumosity project with Rigel Chan.

Rigel ChanYingleong (Rigel) Chan

Scientist/Project Leader

Yingleong (Rigel) Chan, PhD is a postdoctoral fellow at the Department of Genetics at Harvard Medical School. Rigel’s research focus is on the discovery of genetic variants that influences human diseases and traits. In his present research, he is using next-generation sequencing data in human cell lines to discover genetic alleles that influences a variety of cellular phenotypes, e.g. susceptibility to viral infection, cancer drug susceptibility, etc. Rigel also co-leads the PGP Scoring and Ranking project as well as the PGP-Lumosity project with Elaine Lim.

Ranjan AhujaRanjan Ahuja

Director of Community

Ranjan Ahuja is involved with initiating and supporting global PGP initiatives and helping to expand research collaborations at the Harvard Personal Genome Project.  He also focuses on the day to day operations of the PGP, event planning, and provides participant support. Ranjan previously spent five years at Harvard Business School directly supporting several faculty members. He holds a bachelor’s in biology and a certificate in environmental science from the Rochester Institute of Technology.

Project Alumni

Jason BobeJason Bobe

Past Director of Community

Jason Bobe was the founding Executive Director of PersonalGenomes.org (now Open Humans Foundation) and served as the Director of Community for the Harvard Personal Genome Project starting in 2007. He was an invited speaker to the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues and is a regular commentator on the importance of citizen science, decentralized access to genomic technologies and DIYbio. Jason is now an Associate Professor, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

Mad Price BallMad Price Ball

Past Director of Research

Mad Price Ball, PhD was Director of Research for the Harvard PGP. Mad was involved in developing the computational and literature review methods used to interpret PGP genomes and is a leading developer of GET-Evidence, the PGP’s system for genome interpretation. Currently, Mad is the Executive Director of the Open Humans Foundation and co-founder of Open Humans, and a Shuttleworth Foundation Fellow, pursuing a vision of open approaches to human health data sharing.