Newswise — BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Matthew Might, Ph.D., a renowned computer scientist and strategic leader appointed to the White House Precision Medicine Initiative by former President Barack Obama, has been named the inaugural director of the Hugh Kaul Personalized Medicine Institute at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine.
Might comes to UAB from the University of Utah, where he is a Presidential Scholar and an associate professor in both computer science and pharmaceutical chemistry, and from Harvard Medical School, where he is a visiting professor of biomedical informatics. Might’s research interests focus on the intersection of computation and medicine to advance precision medicine through personalized therapeutics.
Precision medicine is an emerging practice of conducting medicine that uses a comprehensive set of resources and information — from an individual’s family history and genetic profile to lifestyle and environment — in order to guide decisions for the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of disease. It has attracted significant early attention for its promise in treating rare diseases and cancers at their root cause.
The Hugh Kaul Personalized Medicine Institute, named by a gift from the Hugh Kaul Foundation, was established in 2014. Might will be the inaugural director of the institute. Nita Limdi, Pharm.D., Ph.D., has served as interim director of the institute since its creation.
“Dr. Might is a passionate scientist, and I believe that his drive and strategic vision will make UAB a national leader in precision medicine,” said Selwyn M. Vickers, M.D., FACS, senior vice president for Medicine and dean of the UAB School of Medicine. “He is an exceptional team builder, as evidenced by what he has accomplished over the last nine years. He will be a transformative presence for our patients and the academic enterprise as we look to build on what UAB has already done with undiagnosed diseases and expand those advances to deliver effective, individualized care to patients with cancer and common diseases.”
Might’s shift into genetics and drug development was inspired by his son Bertrand, who was diagnosed in 2012 as the first case of NGLY1 deficiency, an ultra-rare genetic disorder. Might then pioneered the use of social media and search engine optimization to find other patients with the rare genetic condition in a successful effort to advance scientific research and drug development for the disease. He has since co-founded a company that conducts personalized drug screens for genetic epilepsy.
Might was recruited in January 2015 by former President Barack Obama to serve as an adviser to the then newly launched Precision Medicine Initiative. He took on a formal role with the Precision Medicine Initiative as a White House official in the Executive Office of the President in March 2016.
“I’m terrifically excited to be joining the UAB School of Medicine,” Might said. “UAB leaders are making substantial commitments to make precision medicine a reality for patients in Alabama much sooner than it will be a reality anywhere else in the country. There’s a unique constellation of resources both within UAB, like the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center, Center for Genomic Medicine and Informatics Institute, and in partnerships with Southern Research and HudsonAlpha that make precision medicine realistic today.”
Might earned his bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in computer science from Georgia Tech before joining the University of Utah in 2008.
Might’s first day at UAB will be July 1, 2017.
About UABKnown for its innovative and interdisciplinary approach to education at both the graduate and undergraduate levels, the University of Alabama at Birmingham is an internationally renowned research university and academic medical center and the state of Alabama’s largest employer, with some 23,000 employees and an economic impact exceeding $5 billion annually on the state. The five pillars of UAB’s mission deliver knowledge that will change your world: the education of students, who are exposed to multidisciplinary learning and a new world of diversity; research, the creation of new knowledge; patient care, the outcome of ‘bench-to-bedside’ translational knowledge; service to the community at home and around the globe, from free clinics in local neighborhoods to the transformational experience of the arts; and the economic development of Birmingham and Alabama. Learn more at www.uab.edu.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The University of Alabama at Birmingham is a separate, independent institution from the University of Alabama, which is located in Tuscaloosa. Please use University of Alabama at Birmingham on first reference and UAB on subsequent references.