Isaac (Zak) Kohane, MD, PhD is the inaugural Chair of the Department of Biomedical Informatics and the Marion V. Nelson Professor of Biomedical Informatics at Harvard Medical School. He served as co-author of the Institute of Medicine Report on Precision Medicine that has been the template for national efforts. He develops and applies computational techniques to address disease at multiple scales: from whole healthcare systems as “living laboratories” to the functional genomics of neurodevelopment with a focus on autism.
Over the last 30 years, Zak’s research agenda has been driven by the vision of what biomedical researchers could do to find new cures, provide new diagnoses and deliver the best care available if data could be converted more rapidly to knowledge and knowledge to practice. In so doing, Kohane has designed and led multiple internationally adopted efforts to “instrument” the healthcare enterprise for discovery and to enable innovative decision-making tools to be applied to the point of care. At the same time, the new insights afforded by ’omic-scale molecular analyses have inspired him and his collaborators to work on re-characterizing and reclassifying diseases such as autism, rheumatoid arthritis and cancers. In many of these studies, the developmental trajectories of thousands of genes have been a powerful tool in unraveling complex diseases.
In 1987, Zak earned his MD/PhD from Boston University and then completed his post-doctoral work at Boston Children’s Hospital, where he has since worked as a pediatric endocrinologist. He joined the faculty at Harvard Medical School in1992, serving as Director of Countway Library from 2005-2015 and as Co-Director of the Center for Biomedical Informatics during the same period, before it became the Department of Biomedical informatics in July 2015. Zak has published several hundred papers in the medical literature and authored a widely-used book on Microarrays for an Integrative Genomics. He is a member of the Institute of Medicine and the American Society for Clinical Investigation.