Rex L. Chisholm

Dr. Chisholm received both his bachelor’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Michigan where he was a trainee of the NIH training program in genetics.  As a doctoral student Dr. Chisholm investigated recombination between DNA introduced into cells and cellular chromosomes, a process critical for the genetic modification of animal cells and animals.  As a postdoctoral fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he developed methods for analyzing the patterns of gene expression during development.  Since 1984, Chisholm has been on the faculty of Northwestern University where his research program uses genetic and molecular genetic approaches to investigate the fundamental process of cell motility.  These studies have contributed to our understanding of processes such as wound healing, tumor metastasis, and embryonic development.

Author of over 140 scientific papers and abstracts, Chisholm has served as a member of scientific review committees for the National Institutes of Health and the American Cancer Society.  He also served as director of the Biomedical Hands-on-Laboratory of the Science Writing Fellowships Program at the Marine Biological Laboratory.  Chisholm received a Basil O’Connor Fellowship from the March of Dimes and was elected a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.  Between 2000 and September 2007, Dr. Chisholm served as the founding director of the Center for Genetic Medicine, a partnership between Northwestern University, Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Children’s Memorial Hospital and Evanston Northwestern Healthcare that facilitates the development of new genetic knowledge and its application to medicine. In July 2007, he was appointed dean for research for the Feinberg School of Medicine.

Currently his research focuses bioinformatics, particularly characterization and annotation of genomes sequences and the use of databases and the internet to present genome information.  He also leads a major biobanking effort at Northwestern University, NUgene (  This project enrolls research participants in a study focused on investigating the genetic contributions to human disease, therapeutic outcomes and gene-environment interactions.  His research has been supported by the National Institutes of Health, American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, and the Department of Defense.

Dr. Chisholm also has a strong interest in the public understanding of science.  He speaks regularly to lay audiences about issues of biomedical research and especially genetics and stems cells.  In addition to fostering public understanding of the science behind these timely research areas, he is also interested in stimulating a public dialog regarding the impact these technologies will have on society and on our lives.



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Content by Rex L. Chisholm


At first glance, the idea of personalized medicine may not seem that new. After all, haven’t physicians always given personalized care? They meet with you individually, ask about your health, and take your blood to measure hormones, cholesterol, and the numbers and types of cells in your blood. If a prescribed drug doesn’t effectively treat a disease, they switch you to a different one. Isn’t that personalized medicine? Maybe—but not in the way it could be.