Blog – Dr. Marie-Pierre Dubé, director of the MHI’s Pharmacogenomics Centre, a project partner, talks about precision medicine.
A real math and biology whiz, Dr. Dubé first developed a keen interest in genetics during university. “I fell in love with genetics. I saw it as the quantitative science of biology—it allows us to apply math and statistics to health.”
In her quest to understand the role genes play in the development of diseases, this young woman completed a doctorate in genetic statistics. Dr. Dubé happily recalled the days when they were still laying the foundations of precision medicine. “In the early aughts, it was all pretty new. People were only interested in mutations with strong effects that explained certain rare diseases. But a new statistical model that looked at more subtle variations was just coming to light.”
To illustrate this innovative vision, Dr. Dubé began, “Why does a person have thin or curly or brown hair? It’s due to a number of genes all converging to result in a particular expression. That’s what human diversity is—it’s the product of tiny genetic variations. The same thing applies to health. Beyond studying genetic mutations with strong effects, we can now develop models for many variations with weak effects to explain diseases more precisely.”