Jennifer (Piper) Below, PhD, is an Associate Professor of Medicine with a primary appointment in the Division of Genetic Medicine within the Department of Medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Dr. Below’s lab develops and applies computational methods to further understanding of the genetic and epigenetic basis of human disease. Specifically, she focuses on development of novel strategies for identifying and confirming genetic risk factors to a wide range of familial and complex traits including cardiovascular and metabolic diseases, Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, speech and language traits, oral and tooth traits, and infectious disease (pneumonia, COVID-19) via ascertainment of dense genetic, transcriptomic, and phenotypic data. She is particularly interested in the bioinformatics methods involved in network analysis of related individuals, genomic segments shared identical by descent, large-scale meta-analyses, and genetically derived predictions of expression in large electronic health record databases linked to DNA databanks, such as Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s biobank, BioVU, AllofUs, and the UKBioBank. She also works with numerous large-scale datasets with specific focus on populations that experience disparity in medical access, health outcomes, and have been historically underrepresented in genetics. Dr. Below leads the international efforts to meta-analyze all type 2 diabetes and lipids GWAS data available from Hispanic populations (>60,000 samples) as part of the DIAMANTE and the Hispanic/Latino Lipids Consortium, respectively and collaborates with the Cameron County Hispanic Cohort to explore the effects of gene expression and genetic variation on multiple cardiometabolic traits, bone mineral density, COVID-19, and other longitudinal omics studies in Hispanics. In addition, she is a member of the Vanderbilt Brain Institute, and analyzes dense genomic data in admixed populations to improve understanding of dementia risk. She is a mentor for the James Carter Scholars Program, a training program that promotes career development of students from Meharry Medical College, a historically Black medical institution, and the Human Genetics Scholars Initiative of the American Society of Human Genetics, providing mentorship for diverse investigators in genetics. Today, she leverages her expertise in social media and communications to facilitate mass online science outreach and serve on the communications committees for several major genetics societies. She was a 2020 Vanderbilt University Chancellor Faculty Fellow and currently serves as PI of five NIH funded R01s.
PhD - Human Genetics - University of Chicago, 2011
Fellowship - Genome Sciences - University of Washington, 2013
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