Renowned Geneticist Margaret Pericak-Vance to Speak at Commencement

05-03-13 - Pioneer geneticist and genomics expert will address the class of 2013.

Wells College is proud to announce that Margaret A. Pericak-Vance ’73, pioneer in the field of genetics and head of the University of Miami’s John P. Hussman Institute for Human Genomics, will give the College’s 2013 Commencement address. Dr. Pericak-Vance has spent years building a solid reputation as a global leader in the field of human genetics. Her groundbreaking research has furthered the scientific community’s understanding of genomics and neurological diseases. The College warmly welcomes her return to deliver the Commencement address for the class of 2013.

A board-certified Ph.D. medical geneticist, Margaret Pericak-Vance is the director of the University of Miami’s John P. Hussman Institute for Human Genomics, a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a founding fellow of the American College of Medical Genetics, a leader of the analysis team for the Alzheimer’s Disease Genetics Consortium and the former director for the Center for Human Genetics at Duke University.

Dr. Pericak-Vance pioneered the use of novel disease mapping, leading to the 1993 identification of apolipoprotein E as the major susceptibility gene for Alzheimer disease. Her findings sparked a major paradigm shift in human genetics that focused genetics research on common diseases with the largest public health impact. Her work continues to uncover the genetic etiology of conditions such as multiple sclerosis, autism, age-related macular degeneration and retinitis pigmentosa. The impact of her research will influence healthcare practices for the decades to come as these genetic findings are translated into better diagnoses and treatment for millions of patients worldwide.

Dr. Pericak-Vance has published more than 500 peer-reviewed papers that demonstrate outstanding productivity and important milestones in diseases. She played a significant role in five of the six top published papers on Alzheimer disease. Her professional honors include the 2011 Alzheimer’s Association Bengt Winblad Lifetime Achievement Award, election to the Institute of Medicine, acclaim from the Institut de France’s Academie des Sciences and placement on Newsweek magazine’s “Century Club: 100 People to Watch as We Move to the Next Millennium.” After receiving her bachelor's degree in biological and chemical sciences at Wells, she earned her Ph.D. in medical genetics from Indiana University and completed her post-doctoral work in biostatistics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

With her outstanding professional career and dedication to expanding the genetic understanding of the scientific community, Dr. Pericak-Vance provides an excellent example for this year’s Senior Class. Wells extends a special thank you to the class of 2013 officers for their collaborative work to bring such an influential alumna to share in the conclusion of their academic careers at Wells.

Wells College’s Commencement ceremonies will take place on the lakeside lawn of the Aurora Inn in Aurora, N.Y., at 10 a.m. on Saturday, May 18, 2013. For more information, visit



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