Claire M. Fraser, Ph.D.

Claire Fraser, Ph.D., is Director of the Institute of Genome Sciences at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. She also serves as faculty member in the departments of Medicine and Microbiology/Immunology. A Maryland resident for over 25 years, Dr. Fraser is a leader and pioneer in genomic medicine.

Dr. Fraser graduated summa cum laude from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and received her Ph.D. in Pharmacology from the State University of New York at Buffalo. She moved to Maryland in 1985 and began working at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda. Dr. Fraser took on leadership positions in the field of genomic research in medicine and eventually became Vice President for Research and Director of the Department of Microbial Genomic at the Institute of Genetic Research. It was here, in 1995, that Dr. Fraser published the first complete genome sequence of a free living organism, Haemophilus influenzae. This groundbreaking publication launched the field of microbial genomics.

Dr. Fraser became the Director of the Institute for Genome Research (TIGR) in 1997 and served there until 2007. At TIGR, Dr. Fraser's team made genome sequencing discoveries that revolutionized the study of microbial genomics. Dr. Fraser and her team even helped identify the source of the deadly 2001 anthrax attack in one of the biggest investigations conducted by U.S. law enforcement.

Microbial Forensics and Biosecurity Research are not the only aspects of Dr. Fraser's work that greatly benefit society. Dr. Fraser and her team apply genomic and bioinformatic tools to create solutions to world health problems and human disease. She works with world-renowned researchers in virology, immunology, infectious disease, and epidemiology. Her work with infectious disease, zoonotic studies, and especially orphan diseases like malaria and East Coast Fever, significantly help improve health in developing countries.

In 2007, Dr. Fraser launched the Institute for Genome Sciences (IGS) in downtown Baltimore in a move that positions Baltimore as a key area for international genomic research. Dr. Fraser is tireless in her pursuit of funding for microbial genome research. As as result, the Institute holds over 25% of the grant money awarded by the Human Microbiome Project.

Dr. Fraser uses her skills and position of leadership in genome sciences to improve the lives of women throughout the world. She continuously mentors women and under-represented minorities to encourage their involvement in the field of science. She also connects with other scientists to share grants and integrate research programs. Her involvement in mentoring goes beyond just the scientific field. In 2001, Dr. Fraser established a scholarship fund in Nairobi, Kenya. Each year, this fund enables five young Maasai women to complete their high school education.

Dr. Fraser is a global leader in microbial genomic research and translation. She is one of the most highly cited investigators in microbiology and is involved in the completion of more than 1,000 microbial genome sequences globally. She has authored more than 200 publications, edited three books, and sat on 9 editorial boards for scientific journals. She has served on numerous advisory panels for many major Federal agencies. She also contributes time as a Board member for non-profit groups, research institutes, and universities. Dr. Fraser's commitment to the study of microbial genomic research and translation has led to the improvement of many lives in Maryland and throughout the world.

Biography courtesy of the Maryland Commission for Women, 2010.

© Copyright Maryland State Archives, 2010