Starting April 2015, Atul Butte, MD, PhD will be the new Director of the new Institute of Computational Health Sciences (ICHS) at the University of California, San Francisco, and a Professor of Pediatrics. Dr. Butte trained in Computer Science at Brown University, worked as a software engineer at Apple and Microsoft, received his MD at Brown University, trained in Pediatrics and Pediatric Endocrinology at Children’s Hospital Boston, then received his PhD in Health Sciences and Technology from Harvard Medical School and MIT. Dr. Butte then spent 10 years at Stanford, culminating in his role as Chief of the Division of Systems Medicine at Stanford. Dr. Butte is also a founder of three investor-backed companies: Personalis, providing clinical interpretation of whole genome sequences, Carmenta, discovering diagnostics for pregnancy complications, and NuMedii, finding new uses for drugs through open molecular data.
Dr. Butte’s research laboratory builds and applies tools that convert more than 400 trillion points of molecular, clinical, and epidemiological data – measured by researchers and clinicians over the past decade and now colloquially known as “big data” – into diagnostics, therapeutics, and new insights into disease. Examples of this method includes work on cancer drug discovery published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (2000), on type 2 diabetes published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (2003 and 2012), on fat cell formation published in Nature Cell Biology (2005), on obesity in Bioinformatics (2007), and in transplantation published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (2009). To facilitate this, the Butte Lab has developed tools to automatically index and find genomic data sets based on the phenotypic and contextual details of each experiment, published in Nature Biotechnology (2006), to re-map microarray data, published in Nature Methods (2007), to deconvolve multi-cellular samples, published in Nature Methods (2010), and to perform these calculations on the internet “cloud”, as published in Nature Biotechnology (2010). The Butte Lab has used these tools on publicly-available molecular data to successfully find and validate new uses for existing drugs, as published in back-to-back papers in Science Translational Medicine (2011) and Cancer Discovery (2013). The Butte Lab has also been developing novel methods in comparing clinical data from electronic health record systems with gene expression data, as described in Science (2008), and was part of the team performing the first clinical annotation of a patient presenting with a whole genome, as described in the Lancet (2010). The Butte Laboratory currently has been funded by HHMI and under several NIH grants. Dr. Butte is also the principal investigator of ImmPort, the archival and dissemination repository for clinical and molecular datasets funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Dr. Butte has authored nearly 200 publications, with research regularly featured in Wired Magazine, as well as in the New York Times Science Times and the International Herald Tribune (2008), Wall Street Journal (2010-2012), San Jose Mercury News (2010), and the San Francisco Chronicle (2013). In 2013, Dr. Butte was recognized by the US White House as an Open Science Champion of Change for promoting science through publicly available data. Other recent awards include the 2014 E. Mead Johnson Award for Research in Pediatrics, 2013 induction into the American Society for Clinical Investigation, the 2012 FierceBiotech IT “Top 10 Biotech Techies”, 2011 National Human Genome Research Institute Genomic Advance of the Month, 2010 Society for Pediatric Research Young Investigator Award, 2008 AMIA New Investigator Award, the 2007 Genome Technology “Tomorrow’s Principal Investigator” Award, and the 2006 Howard Hughes Medical Institute Early Career Award. Dr. Butte also co-authored one of the first books on microarray analysis titled “Microarrays for an Integrative Genomics” published by MIT Press.