Nancy J. Cox, PhD


Director, Vanderbilt Genetics Institute

Professor of Medicine, Division of Genetic Medicine

Director, Division of Genetic Medicine

Mary Phillips Edmonds Gray Professor of Genetics

Professional Highlights

Dr. Nancy Cox was recruited to lead the VGI initiative and the Training Program in Genetic Variation and Human Phenotypes in 2015. Her primary appointment is in the Department of Medicine, and she also serves as the Director of the Division of Genetic Medicine. She is a quantitative human geneticist with a long-standing research program in identifying and characterizing the genetic component of common human diseases. Her current research is focused on large-scale integration of genomics with other “-omics” data, as well as biobank and electronic medical records data. Specifically, Dr. Cox’s laboratory develops methods for analyzing genetic and genomic data and then applies those methods to the analysis of genome data on common diseases and translational phenotypes, such as pharmacogenomics traits, with a particular focus now on the integration of information on genome function with methods for the analysis of genome data on icogenomics, breast cancer, diabetes and its complications, autism, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, Tourette Syndrome and OCD. Her work has also been funded to develop methods for the analysis of 1,000 Genomes Project data as well as GTEx Project data. Most recently, methods development has focused on the development of genome predictors of expression of genes across all GTEx tissues. Using GTEx as a reference panel for predicting gene expression phenotypes is analogous to the way 1,000 Genomes Project data have been used as a reference panel for imputation of SNP data. Her lab proposes to augment the analyses planned for this project using gene-based tests associating genetically predicted gene expression (for relevant tissues) with case/control status (or with a quantitative trait). In addition, through her activities as VGI Director, she will be enhancing the number of samples with genome interrogation in BioVU and plans to make the results of new types of statistical genomics analyses on BioVU data available to the Vanderbilt community of scientists.

Administrative Contact:
Dana M. Campbell
(615) 343-1689
Brief Description

Nancy J. Cox, PhD, is Professor of Medicine and Director of the Division of Genetic Medicine in the Department of Medicine. Dr. Cox completed her PhD at Yale University in 1982 and conducted postdoctoral research at Washington University and the University of Pennsylvania. She joined the faculty at the University of Chicago in 1987, where she spent her academic faculty career until she was recruited to Vanderbilt in January 2015 to lead the new Vanderbilt Genetics Institute (VGI). As Founding Director of the VGI, Dr. Cox is focused on recruiting world-class genetics and genomics scientists to the Institute, with the primary goal of making Vanderbilt’s DNA databank, BioVU, into an unparalleled engine for discovery and translation in human genetics and genomics. Dr. Cox initiated the first large-scale genetic/genomic consortium in type 2 diabetes, and she has active research and advisory roles in many of the top genomic consortia that provide the foundation for current studies in human genetics and genomics. Dr. Cox also has an active research program in data integration, particularly in the integration of functional genomic information to aid in discovery and interpretation of associations of genome variation with common disease. Her lab was the first to show that most of the common variant associations to common human diseases and complex human traits appear to be regulatory in function. She has more than 280 peer-reviewed publications and was a co-winner of the 2008 American Association of Cancer Research Landon Award and winner of the 2010 Leadership Award in Genetic Epidemiology. She was named a Pritzker Scholar in 2012 and a Distinguished Faculty from the Biological Sciences Division at the University of Chicago in 2013. She is former editor of Genetic Epidemiology (2006-2011), a former member of the Board of Directors for the American Society of Human Genetics, and is Member-at-Large for Biological Sciences in the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Administrative Contact:

Dana Campbell






Ph.D., Human Genetics - Yale University, 1982
B.S., Biology University of Notre Dame, 1978

Relevant links