Internationally Renowned Geneticist Eric Vilain, MD, PhD to Chair GW Department of Genomics and Precision Medicine

Vilain will bring 30 years of experience to his new role at GW, which he will perform alongside his role as director of the Center for Genetic Medicine Research at Children’s National Health System
Dr. Eric Vilain posing for a portrait

WASHINGTON (Aug. 24, 2017) — Eric Vilain, MD, PhD, will serve as chair and professor of the newly re-named Department of Genomics and Precision Medicine at the George Washington University (GW) School of Medicine and Health Sciences and Children’s National Health System. He will also serve as professor of pediatrics and continue in his role as director of the Center for Genetic Medicine Research at Children’s National.

Previously named the Department of Integrative Systems Biology, the Department of Genomics and Precision Medicine will focus on investigating genetic and epigenetic mechanisms of disease, leading to individualized diagnosis, treatment, and risk stratification. The new name reflects the innovative genomic and bioinformatic approaches to translational medicine. The department includes 35 faculty members, many of them physician/scientists, who will focus on both rare and common disorders.

“In addition to his international reputation in the field of differences of sex development, Dr. Vilain is an outstanding choice to lead our new Department of Genomics and Precision Medicine,” said Jeffrey S. Akman, MD, vice president for health affairs at GW, Walter A. Bloedorn Professor of Administrative Medicine, and dean of the GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences. “Dr. Vilain's work will continue to add to our knowledge of this important area as we build our collaborative research efforts with Children's National.”

Vilain brings 30 years of expertise to GW. He is a renowned geneticist and is one of the world’s foremost experts in the genetic determinants of sex development and sex differences. He has worked closely with intersex advocacy groups that campaign for recognition and better medical treatment, served as a medical adviser for the International Olympic Committee Medical Commission and for the National Collegiate Athletic Association Office of Inclusion in their effort to establish guidelines allowing intersex athletes and transgender student-athletes fair and respectful access to Olympic and Collegiate sports. He established a major longitudinal study to track the psychological and medical well-being of hundreds of children with DSDs, and novel diagnostic approaches to the investigation of unsolved diseases as part of the nationwide Undiagnosed Diseases Network.

Vilain has authored nearly 200 manuscripts in leading medical journals and his current work is funded by several research grants from the National Institutes of Health. He is a fellow of the American College of Medical Genetics, a member of the Board of Scientific Counselors of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, and a member of many professional organizations. He has received numerous awards, including the Basil O’Connor Award from the March of Dimes, the Distinguished Clinical Scientist Award from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, and the E. Mead Johnson Award for Pediatric Research.

“I am honored to lead the Department of Genomics and Precision Medicine at GW,” said Vilain. “Along with other physician/scientists in the department, we will advance critical research and understanding of genetic disorders, and work to improve the health of children in D.C. and worldwide.”

Vilain completed his medical training at the Faculté de Médecine Necker Enfants Malades and his graduate training in genetics at the Université Pierre et Marie Curie/Pasteur Institute in Paris. Following completion of a residency in pediatrics at Paris Hospital System and a residency/fellowship in medical genetics at University of California – Los Angeles (UCLA) School of Medicine, he joined the UCLA Departments of Human Genetics, Pediatrics, and Urology. While at UCLA, he served as chief of medical genetics. He was also a course instructor for both medical and undergraduate students, served on the PhD dissertation committees of many PhD students, and was a mentor to postdoctoral fellows and graduate students.

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