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Keolu Fox Geneticist + Researcher + Surfer

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"The Cure to Cancer may be at our Doorstep"

Featured on the BBC, CBC, NPR, The Atlantic, Forbes, Wired and more, TED Fellow, Dr. Keolu Fox has garnered international attention, for his breakthrough idea that 'Genetics needs to be more Native'. With over 95% of genetic research and trials being conducting on only people of European descent, we are missing out. Our genetic ancestry plays a huge role in what diseases we get and what ones we don’t. Dr. Fox proves that genetic studies should include all demographics.

Dr. Keolu Fox is the first Native Hawaiian to receive a Ph.D. in genome sciences. Dr. Fox's research interests include genome sequencing technologies, genome editing, and indigenizing medical research. Dr. Fox is currently a post-doctoral fellow in Alan Saltiel's research group at the University of California, San Diego, School of Medicine, Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism. His work focuses on using genome sequencing/editing technologies to investigate the molecular events involved in the regulation of glucose uptake and storage, with special attention to mechanisms underlying the specificity of the actions of insulin and the links between obesity and diabetes in underrepresented minority populations. He has been awarded grants through the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and published his findings in journals such as Blood, The American Journal of Human Genetics, Nature Communications, Transfusion, and Human Evolutionary Genetics. Along with fellow Indigenous geneticists Katrina Claw (PhD) and Joe Yracheta, Dr. Fox co-founded IndiGenomics, a tribal non-profit organization with a mission of bringing genomic expertise to Indigenous communities, empowering Indigenous research capacity and positively contributing to health research with Indigenous communities for present and future generations.

Dr. Fox’s mission is to increase ethnic diversity in genome studies in order to figure out why certain populations — including Indigenous peoples — experience higher rates of common chronic diseases. He is also creating tools that empower Indigenous peoples to be partners in their own health research, including a mobile genome-sequencing platform, interactive informed consent forms and a tribal consultation resource.

More recently, Fox worked at the National Institutes of Health, under Dr. Ed Ramos, who advised Barack Obama (as a Senator) on the creation of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, a law that prohibits the use of genetic information to discriminate in the provision of health insurance and employment.

  • Join Dr. Keolu Fox as he explores the frontiers of genetic research, illustrating the need for science to be more diverse. Listen as he translates how only with demographic inclusion are we going to be able to explore that genetic frontier.  

    Dr. Fox shares how history has shown us that demographic inclusion must be voluntary and developed through relationship building and mutual respect.  At the forefront of human genome research, Fox is spearheading the movement to change how cultural and bio-medical data is interpreted. He is taking research out of the laboratory and putting into the hands of communities.

    It may seem like science fiction to some, but Fox is humanizing the concepts to data-driven wellness. Fox states, "We are focusing on the implementation of next generation sequence (NGS) analysis of human blood group antigens to increase compatibility for blood transfusion therapy and organ transplantation." What if the cure to cancer, viruses, and other diseases can be found in our genes? And what if the solutions to these issues can be found through the use of a mobile gene sequencing device no larger than a TV remote control?  

  • PUBLICATIONS

    1. Keolu Fox. The Future of Paleogenomics: What Left When the Bone-dust Settles? Society for American Archeology Record. (Invited author, edited volume, in-press, 2019)

    2. Keolu Fox. Revisiting the ’Thrifty Gene Theory’ in the Genome Editing Era. Evolutionary Anthropology. (Under review, 2018)

    3. Katrina G Claw, Matthew Z Anderson, Rene L Begay, Krystal S Tsosie, Keolu Fox, Nanibaa A Garrison, the Summerinternship for Indigenous peoples in Genomics (SING) Consortium. A Framework for Enhancing Ethical Genomic Research with Indigenous Communities. Nature Communications. (July, 2018)

    4. Jessica Bardill, Alyssia Bader, Nanibaa A Garrison, Deborah A Bolnick, Jennifer A Ra↵, Ripan Malhi RS, and *The SING Consortium. Advancing the Ethics of Paleogenomics. Science. *Keolu Fox is a member of the SING Consortium (June, 2018)

    5. Katrina G Claw KG, Dorthy Lippert, Jessica Bardill, Keolu Fox, Joseph M Yracheta, Alyssia Bader, Deborah A Bolnick, Ripan S Malhi RS, Kim Tallbear, and Nanibaa A Garrison. Chaco Canyon Dig Unearths Ethical Concerns. Human Biology. (July, 2017)

    6. Keolu Fox, Jill M Johnsen, Bradley P Coe, Chris D Frazar, Alexander P Reiner, NHLBI Exome Sequencing Project, Minority Health-GRID Network, Evan E Eichler, and Deborah A Nickerson. Analysis of Exome Sequencing Data Sets Reveals Structural Variation in the Coding Region of ABO in Individuals of African Ancestry. Transfusion. (August, 2016)

    7. Polfus, Linda M, Rajiv K Khajuria, Ursula M Schick, Nathan Pankratz, Raha Pazoki, Jennifer A Brody, Keolu Fox, Ming-Huei Chen, et al. 2016. Whole-Exome Sequencing Identifies Loci Associated with Blood Cell Traits and Reveals a Role for Alternative GFI1B Splice Variants in Human Hematopoiesis. American Journal of Human Genetics. (June, 2016)

    8. Wessel, Jennifer, Audrey Y Chu, Sara M Willems, Shuai Wang, Hanieh Yaghootkar, Jennifer A Brody, Keolu Fox, Marco Dauriz. Low-Frequency and Rare Exome Chip Variants Associate with Fasting Glucose and Type 2 Diabetes Susceptibility. Nature Communications. (January, 2015)

    9. Girirajan, Santhosh, Rebecca L Johnson, Flora Tassone, Keolu Fox, Jorune Balciuniene, Neerja Katiyar, Carl Baker, and Evan Eichler. Global Increases in Both Common and Rare Copy Number Load Associated with Autism. Human Molecular Genetics. (June, 2013)

    10. Johnsen, Jill M, Paul L Auer, Alanna C Morrison, Keolu Fox, Shuo Jiao, Peng Wei, Je↵rey Haessler, et al. 2013. Common and Rare Von Willebrand Factor (VWF) Coding Variants, VWF Levels, and Factor VIII Levels in African Americans: the NHLBI Exome Sequencing Project. Blood (February, 2013)

    11. Auer, Paul L, Jill M Johnsen, Andrew D Johnson, Keolu Fox, Benjamin A Logsdon, Leslie A Lange, Michael A Nalls, and Guosheng Zhang. Imputation of Exome Sequence Variants Into Population- Based Samples and Blood-Cell-Trait- Associated Loci in African Americans: NHLBI GO Exome Sequencing Project. American Journal of Human Genetics. (August, 2012)

  • Native American Research Center for Health (NARCH)

    The American Society for Human Genetics (ASHG)

    The Queens Medical Center: Department of Pathology and Molecular Diagnostics

    The National Geographic Society at University of Washington

    American Association of Physical Anthropologists

    Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe

    University of Michigan, Department of Anthropology

    Stanford University

    23andMe

    Mexican Population Genetics Conference (MEXPOPGEN)

    National Geographic Explorers Festival, Washington D.C.

    March for Science

    University of Otago

    University of Auckland, School of Medicine

    Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) National Conference

    TED2016

    National Congress of American Indians (NCAI)

    The American Society for Human Genetics (ASHG)

    University of New Mexico

    Smithsonian Institute, Native Peoples & Genetic Research exhibit

    National Congress of American Indians

    National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

    Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS)

Dr. Keolu Fox is the first Native Hawaiian to receive a Ph.D. in genome sciences. Dr. Fox's research interests include genome sequencing technologies, genome editing, and indigenizing medical research. Dr. Fox is currently a post-doctoral fellow in Alan Saltiel's research group at the University of California, San Diego, School of Medicine, Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism. His work focuses on using genome sequencing/editing technologies to investigate the molecular events involved in the regulation of glucose uptake and storage, with special attention to mechanisms underlying the specificity of the actions of insulin and the links between obesity and diabetes in underrepresented minority populations. He has been awarded grants through the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and published his findings in journals such as Blood, The American Journal of Human Genetics, Nature Communications, Transfusion, and Human Evolutionary Genetics. Along with fellow Indigenous geneticists Katrina Claw (PhD) and Joe Yracheta, Dr. Fox co-founded IndiGenomics, a tribal non-profit organization with a mission of bringing genomic expertise to Indigenous communities, empowering Indigenous research capacity and positively contributing to health research with Indigenous communities for present and future generations.

Dr. Fox’s mission is to increase ethnic diversity in genome studies in order to figure out why certain populations — including Indigenous peoples — experience higher rates of common chronic diseases. He is also creating tools that empower Indigenous peoples to be partners in their own health research, including a mobile genome-sequencing platform, interactive informed consent forms and a tribal consultation resource.

More recently, Fox worked at the National Institutes of Health, under Dr. Ed Ramos, who advised Barack Obama (as a Senator) on the creation of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, a law that prohibits the use of genetic information to discriminate in the provision of health insurance and employment.

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