Profile – Professor Chris Mason, Weill Cornell Medicine

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Professor Chris Mason


Chris Mason

Job title:

Professor of Genomics, Physiology, and Biophysics, Director of the WorldQuant Initiative for Quantitative Prediction and Director of Genomics at Tempus Labs, co-Founder and Global Director at Biotia, and co-Founder and scientific director at Onegevity.

Place of work / study:

Weill Cornell Medicine

Area of Research:

I develop and deploy computational and experimental methodologies to identify the functional genetic elements of the human genome and metagenome. To do this, me and my team perform research in three principal areas: (1) molecular profiling in patients with extreme phenotypes, including brain malformations, aggressive cancers, and astronauts, (2) creating new biochemical and computational techniques in DNA/RNA sequencing and DNA/RNA base modifications, and (3) the development of bioinformatics models for systems biology and metagenomics. In the very long term, we believe these systems-based methods will enable an understanding of the functional elements of the human genome and embedded metagenome, such that we can begin to repair or re-engineer these genetic networks for ameliorating disease and lay the foundation to enable long-term human spaceflight.

Tell us a little about yourself:

I completed a dual B.S. in Genetics & Biochemistry at University of Wisconsin-Madison (2001), a Ph.D. in Genetics from Yale University (2006), Post-doctoral Fellowship in Clinical Genetics at Yale Medical School (2009) while also serving as the first Visiting Fellow of Genomics, Ethics, and Law at the Information Society Project at Yale Law School (2006-2009). In 2010, I became an Assistant Professor of Genomics, Physiology, and Biophysics at Weill Cornell Medicine, then promoted to Associate Professor in 2015, made the Director of the WorldQuant Initiative for Quantitative Prediction in 2017, and promoted to Full Professor in 2021.

I also holds appointments at Tri-Institutional Program on Computational Biology and Medicine (Cornell, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and Rockefeller University), the Sandra and Edward Meyer Cancer Center, the Feil Family Brain and Mind Research Institute, (BMRI), and am an affiliate fellow of the Information Society Project (ISP) at Yale Law School, affiliate faculty of the Consortium for Space Genetics at Harvard Medical School, and a Core Faculty Member of New York Genome Center (NYGC). I was named as one of the “Brilliant Ten” Scientists by Popular Science, featured as a TEDMED speaker, and called “The Genius of Genetics” by 92Y.

I have >250 peer-reviewed papers and scholarly works that have been featured on the covers of Nature, Science, Cell, Nature Biotechnology, Nature Microbiology, and Neuron, as well as legal briefs cited by the U.S. District Court and U.S. Supreme Court. I am an inventor on four patents, co-founder of five biotechnology start-up companies, and serves as an advisor to 21 others as well as 3 non-profits.

What single piece of advice would you give to an early career researcher?

Keep asking questions until everyone you find says, “I don’t know.”

What book are you reading right now? Would you recommend it?

2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson

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