David Altshuler

David Altshuler, M.D., Ph.D.

David Altshuler

David Altshuler, M.D, Ph.D., is the executive vice president of global research and chief scientific officer at Vertex Pharmaceuticals. In this role, Altshuler leads internal and external innovation, inclusive of research and preclinical and pharmaceutical sciences, as well as data strategy, technology, and engineering. He was founding chair of the Vertex Foundation, and serves as executive sponsor for Vertex University and STEAM Education.  

Since Altshuler joined Vertex as chief scientific officer in 2015, the company has made significant progress to bring new medicines to patients living with cystic fibrosis and other serious diseases. Altshuler implemented Vertex’s research strategy and is responsible for shaping the company’s research pipeline for diseases such as cystic fibrosis, alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, APOL1-mediated kidney diseases, pain, sickle cell disease, beta thalassemia, Duchenne muscular dystrophy and type 1 diabetes. Before joining Vertex as chief scientific officer, he was a member of the company’s board of directors from 2012 to 2014.

Prior to Vertex, Altshuler was a founding core member, deputy director and chief academic officer at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. He was professor of genetics and medicine at Harvard Medical School, adjunct professor of biology at MIT and a physician at Massachusetts General Hospital. His academic laboratory led the three major projects that characterized and catalogued human genetic variation — the SNP Consortium, HapMap, and 1,000 Genome Projects — and pioneered the methods and practice of genetic analysis of common human diseases. His lab discovered hundreds of gene variants associated with diabetes, cardiovascular and autoimmune diseases, and cancer. He continues to teach as a senior lecturer in genetics and medicine at MGH and Harvard.

Altshuler chairs the scientific advisory board of the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and the MGH Research Institute Advisory Council. He serves on the visiting committee of the MIT Department of Biology, the scientific advisory board of MGH, and reviews for the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. He is a member of the board of directors of Genomics PLC and Arbor Biotechnologies and serves on the board of trustees of the Museum of Science and the Becket Chimney Corners YMCA. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine, the American Society of Clinical Investigation, and the American Association of Physicians. He has received numerous awards including the Curt Stern Award of the American Society of Human Genetics and the Outstanding Scientific Research Award of the American Diabetes Association. The Obama White House named Altshuler a Champion of Change for his leadership in creating and leading the Global Alliance for Genomic and Health.

Altshuler received his B.S. in life science from MIT and his M.D. and Ph.D. in genetics from Harvard Medical School. He did clinical training at MGH in internal medicine and in endocrinology, diabetes, and metabolism.

November 2021