July 26, 2023

Nancy Cox receives American Society of Human Genetics Leadership Award

Nancy Cox, PhD, director of the Vanderbilt Genetics Institute, is the recipient of the 2023 ASHG Leadership Award from the American Society of Human Genetics.

Nancy Cox, PhD

Nancy Cox, PhD, the Mary Phillips Edmonds Gray Professor of Medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and director of the Vanderbilt Genetics Institute, is the recipient of the 2023 ASHG Leadership Award from the American Society of Human Genetics.

Cox, a former ASHG president who also directs the Division of Genetic Medicine at VUMC, was recognized for her research, which has helped characterize the genetic contribution to common diseases, and for her leadership to increase diversity in genomic studies.

“In addition to her great accomplishments as a quantitative human geneticist, Dr. Cox is a thought leader and role model in the field,” said Claudia Gonzaga-Jauregui, PhD, principal investigator in the International Laboratory for Human Genome Research at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, in her nomination letter.

“She is a passionate advocate for diversity, equity and women representation in science,” wrote Gonzaga-Jauregui, whose comments were included in ASHG’s announcement of the award.

The award, which includes a $10,000 prize, recognizes “exemplary leadership and vision in advancing the ASHG mission through the promotion and successful assimilation of genetics and genomics knowledge into the broader scientific community.”

The award will be presented during the society’s annual meeting in Washington, D.C., in November.

“I have been a member of the American Society of Human Genetics since I was a graduate student,” Cox said. “It really was a pleasure and an honor to work with ASHG, and I am really grateful for this award.”

Cox, who joined the Vanderbilt faculty in 2015, has focused her research on developing novel quantitative genetic methods to identify and characterize genetic variations that contribute to common human diseases and related complex traits, including diabetes and psychiatric disorders.

After earning a PhD in human genetics from Yale University in 1982, she did postdoctoral work at Washington University and the University of Pennsylvania before joining the University of Chicago faculty in 1987.

She initiated the first large-scale genetic/genomic consortium in Type 2 diabetes with Mike Boehnke, PhD, of the University of Michigan, and her lab was among the first to provide evidence that common variant associations to common human diseases and complex human traits appear to be largely regulatory in function.

Cox developed approaches for predicting gene expression levels from genetic variation. She has an active research program in data integration, particularly in the integration of functional genomic information to aid in the discovery and interpretation of associations of genome variation with common disease.

Named a Pritzker Scholar at the University of Chicago in 2012, Cox is a former editor of the journal Genetic Epidemiology. In 2015 she was elected a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Previous recipients of the ASHG Leadership Award include former NIH director Francis Collins, MD, and Huda Zoghbi, MD, a recipient of the Vanderbilt Prize in Biomedical Science. For more information about the ASHG and its awards program, visit https://www.ashg.org/membership/awards/.