Meet the GRG Team

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Brian Van Ness, Ph.D., is a professor in the Department of Genetics, Cell Biology and Development at the University of Minnesota Medical School. He served as the Head of the Department for nine years, then served as a Director of the Institute of Human Genetics. His research includes pharmacogenomics and precision medicine, from which he has published over 160 journal papers and book chapters. He was Founder and CEO of Target Genomics, LLC, which focused on guiding healthcare providers on the use of genomics. Brian is active in regulatory and legal issues in genomics, both as an expert consultant in patent litigation, as well as a consultant to biotechnology companies and investment groups. He has developed extensive links to experts in genomic technologies, diagnostics, law, commercialization, genetic counseling, data analysis, computation and bioinformatics.

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Ben Auch, M.Sc., brings to the team a deep understanding of the rapidly advancing technological landscape that continues to drive genomics forward. He is the Lead Research Scientist for the Innovation Lab at the University of Minnesota Genomics Center, where his work focuses on the research and development of novel tools and technologies in genomics, particularly in next-generation and third-generation sequencing. He also has experience in commercial biotechnology and laboratory operations from previous positions at Trovagene and Biocept, where he developed molecular diagnostics for oncology testing via cell-free DNA and CTCs. Ben holds a M.Sc. degree in Biology from the University of California, San Diego and a B.A. in Chemistry from St. Olaf College.

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Barb Kunz, MS, LCGC, is a licensed certified genetic counselor with over three decades of experience in clinical genetic services in a wide range of settings. For the last 20 years, she has specialized in oncology, helping start North Memorial Health’s cancer genetics program and serving as their Senior Counselor for 18 years. She currently works as Lead Clinical Services Genetic Counselor for The US Oncology Network’s corporate office, supporting oncology clinics across the network through education, technology and research. Barb has a strong passion for public and professional genetic education, and is a consultant and public speaker through her private business DNAtalks. She is a past Chair of the Minnesota Genetic Counselors Association, and her policy leadership led to the successful passage of state licensure for genetic counselors. She has also been an active member of the Minnesota Cancer Alliance since 2004, serving in many roles related to public health, hereditary cancer and policy, including serving on the steering committee for six years and now on the policy committee.

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Andrew Nelson, M.D., Ph.D., is an assistant professor in the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology at the University of Minnesota Medical School and is a member of the Masonic Cancer Center (an NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center). He holds certifications from the American Board of Pathology in both Anatomic and Molecular Genetic Pathology and serves as the Director of Research and Development for the M Health-Fairview Molecular Diagnostics Laboratory. He has extensive experience in CLIA validation of complex molecular test methods for solid tumors, hematologic malignancies and inherited disease diagnosis, overseeing the spectrum of assay design, protocol optimization, bioinformatic analysis, clinical reporting strategy and quality assurance. His research interests are focused on the development of biomarkers for precision medicine in oncology and the mechanistic study of breast and ovarian cancer disease progression. He previously served as a scientific consultant for Tissue Genetics, Inc. and as a visiting Translational Diagnostics Fellow at Ventana Medical Systems, Inc.

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Chad Myers received his Ph.D. from the Department of Computer Science and the Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics at Princeton University in 2007. He is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Minnesota. Dr. Myers’s research focuses on computational methods for analysis and interpretation of large-scale genetic interaction networks and methods for integration of diverse genomic data to predict gene function or infer biological networks. His lab is developing approaches for analyzing and leveraging interaction networks to answer biological questions in a variety of systems, from yeast to humans.

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David Matthes // PRINCIPAL

David Matthes received his Ph.D. from the Department of Molecular Cell Biology at the University of California, Berkeley in 1995. He is currently a Teaching Professor with a joint appointment in the Department of Genetics, Cell Biology and Development and Department of Biology Teaching and learning at the University of Minnesota. Professor Matthes teaches human genetics, bioinformatic analysis, and one of the few personal genome analysis courses offered anywhere in the world. He is currently developing novel ways to explore, interpret and display genomes and their related metadata and is passionate about bringing insights from personal genomes to people everywhere.