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Lurie winner and incoming Genentech R&D chief Aviv Regev looks to gene programs to untangle complex diseases

A conversation with Aviv Regev on how single cell research can shape drug development

Single cell pioneer Aviv Regev thinks the gene networks revealed by the technology are on the verge of delivering new ways to attack disease biology.

Her emphasis is on the idea that uncovering how genes are organized into modular programs will reveal more about cellular pathology than focusing on individual genes, and make it possible for researchers to measure less and predict more.

The Lurie Prize winner, who begins her new role as head of Genentech Research and Early Development (gRED) on August 1, broke open the field of single-cell RNA sequencing (RNAseq) with a 2013 landmark Nature study that profiled the transcriptomes of 18 dendritic cells.

Regev’s lab at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard has since built a suite of tools that expanded the throughput and scope of the approach, deploying it for deep dives into gene regulatory circuits and human diseases, including inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and drug-resistant melanoma.

In 2016, she and Sarah Teichmann, head of cellular genetics at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, launched the Human Cell Atlas, an open-access collection of reference maps characterizing thousands of cell types in the human body in the context of health and disease.

Regev is also a co-founder of Third Rock-backed Celsius Therapeutics Inc., which raised a $65 million

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