Robert Gentleman, PhD, joined Harvard Medical School in July 2020 as founding executive director of the newly established Center for Computational Biomedicine. An accomplished statistician and computational scientist with extensive experience in academia and industry, he most recently served as vice president of computational biology at the genetic testing company 23andMe.
The Center for Computational Biomedicine was created to harness and amplify computational and data sciences across HMS and strengthen the connective tissue between data science efforts at the medical school and across the Harvard ecosystem, Harvard-affiliated hospitals, and in industry. In his new role, Gentleman is conceptualizing the scientific vision for computational biomedicine across HMS and leading the execution of this vision. He also brings his decades-long experience in developing software tools, user interfaces, and underlying statistical and computational methods to this new role.
Gentleman joined 23andMe to help launch the company’s therapeutics division. There, he built a team of leading computational biologists to develop novel methods for identifying links between genetic loci and possible drug targets. Prior to 23andMe, Gentleman was senior director for bioinformatics and computational biology at the biotech giant Genentech, where he infused computation and data analysis into drug development and studies of immune cell function.Further, Gentleman is the co-creator of the programming language R, which is widely used by statisticians and data miners to develop statistical software and data analysis for a range of applications in various disciplines. Gentleman is also the founder of the Bioconductor Project, an open-source collaborative software tool designed to promote statistical analysis and comprehension of current and emerging genomic data.