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Dr. Frederick P. (Fritz) Roth Announced as New Dept. Chair by Dean Shekhar

I am pleased to announce that Frederick P. (Fritz) Roth, PhD, known worldwide for his work in computational biology and genomics, will join the School of Medicine as professor and chair of the Department of Computational and Systems Biology (CSB), effective October 1, 2023. Dr. Roth will also lead the development of the school’s institutional computational genomic strategy. Since 2011, Dr. Roth has been jointly appointed as professor of molecular genetics and computer science at the University of Toronto’s Donnelly Centre for Cellular and Biomolecular Research and senior investigator at Sinai Health System’s Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute (LTRI), also in Toronto. His research team at both the Donnelly Centre and LTRI carries out computational and experimental genomics research and pursues technology development through fundamental discovery and clinical applications.

After studying physics and molecular and cell biology at the University of California, Berkeley, Fritz completed his PhD in biophysics at Harvard University. He later served Harvard Medical School as an associate professor in the Department of Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology. His prior leadership roles have included co-director of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research Genetic Networks Program; chair of the NIH Genomics, Computational Biology and Technology Study Section; and co-founder and director of the computational biology track within the Molecular Genetics Graduate Program at the University of Toronto. He currently serves on the executive committee of the Atlas of Variant Effects Alliance, an international collaborative to propel systematic measurements of variant impact on functional elements of human and pathogen genomes.

Currently, Dr. Roth’s major research focuses on large-scale measurement and computational inference of human sequence variant effects. His team developed the TileSeq framework to assess the functional impact of nearly all possible human missense variants within a given target protein, yielding “missense variant effect maps.” Using diverse cell-based assays, the team has generated maps for 18 human proteins to date, with at least three of these having been used clinically thus far. In parallel computational efforts, his team developed VARITY, a supervised computational missense variant effect predictor. He recently showed that combining optimized computational predictors with sequenced and phenotyped prospective cohorts can reveal new evidence for hundreds of gene-trait combinations and point to new potential drug targets. Dr. Roth has lectured at more than 60 conferences internationally, published nearly 170 peer-reviewed papers and holds several pending or granted U.S. patents.

I would like to offer my special thanks to Jeremy M. Berg, PhD, who led the search committee to identify a new CSB chair, as well as the full committee for their diligent work. I also want to thank founding CSB chair, Ivet Bahar, PhD, who steered the department to international prominence during her 18 years at its helm. Please join me in welcoming Dr. Fritz Roth to our School of Medicine and wishing him success in his new roles.