About Liz Worthey
Liz Worthey, PhD
Clinical and translational use of genomic data
Since childhood, Liz Worthey, PhD, has been interested in how systems work – like the inner mechanisms of computers and the biological workings of the human body – and how things go wrong.
As a faculty investigator at the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology, Worthey’s combines her youthful interests in computers and human biology. Her work focuses on informatics, which is both building and using tools to analyze data to find specific information.
Worthey joined the Institute in 2015 after working as the director of genomic informatics for the Human and Molecular Genetics Center at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee. She earned her PhD in genetics from Imperial College, London, in 2003 and completed her postdoctoral fellowship at the Seattle Biomedical Research Institute and the University of Washington. As an undergraduate researcher, she studied the human immune system before switching her focus to human and molecular genetics and genomics for her postgraduate education.
At HudsonAlpha, Worthey and her team design, build and implement software both for their own research endeavors and to support the clinical and research needs of the Institute. The team includes analysts and researchers who use software they have created to analyze huge datasets to search for genetic changes – called variants – that could be causing disease. Besides linking variants to disease, Worthey’s goal is to use interpreted data not only for a diagnosis but also to predict potential disease risk and outcomes and to assist in the identification or repurposing of treatments.
“The real goal,” she says, “is predictive analytics. Once you make a diagnosis, we need to be able to give a family more information about what specifically is going to happen next, what treatments or adaptations might work for them, what things to be on the lookout for. That’s what they really need.”