Damian Heine Suñer

Dr Damian Heine Suñer was born in 1963 in New York City, USA.  He followed his studies in biology at the University of Barcelona, Spain. He received a joint PhD degree from Rutgers University and the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ), USA, in 1995. The research leading to his doctorate was under the direction of Dr. Howard C. Passmore on the molecular genetics of recombination, (recombination hotspots in the mouse MHC).

From 1995 to 1999, Dr Heine Suñer held a postdoctoral position in the laboratory of Dr. Santiago Rodríguez de Cordoba in Madrid (Spain), at the Centro de Investigaciones Biológicas (CIB), a research center within the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC). In Madrid, his research continued to be focused on the genetics and genomics of recombination, and now, on how it is implicated in human disease.

In 1999 Dr. Heine Suñer returned to his home island, Mallorca (Spain) to set up the Molecular Genetics Clinical Diagnostic Laboratory within the Genetics Department of the Hospital Son Dureta (currently Hospital Universitari Son Espases, HUSE).  The Genetics Department of Hospital Son Espases is the only one offering clinical genetic services within the public health system of the Balearic Islands (IB-Salut) and services a population of 1.100.000. Also in 1999, he received his first competitive research grant as a Principal Investigator (PI), from the Spanish Ministry of Health to study the molecular basis of the 22q11DS.  And since then has been continuously funded and maintained an active research interest in genomics of health in general, and the 22q11DS syndrome, congenital heart defects and Fragile-X syndrome in particular.  Currently, research projects entail and prioritize the use of new technologies for the study of these diseases (SNP-arrays, NGS and digital PCR).

In 2012 he was co-founder of the spin-off genetic diagnostic and research and development company, Genosalut, of which he is scientific director and consultant.  The facilities of the company are within one of the main private hospitals in Palma, Clinica Rotger, where it performs also as its Genetics Department.  The company aims to apply next generation technologies to develop a personalized medicine approach for common and rare diseases. In this context, it has developed diagnostic strategies for the genetics of obesity, fitness and sport, as well as applying exome analysis to finding the genetic causes of congenital heart diseases, cancer, epilepsy and rare diseases.

Currently he divides his time between his clinical diagnostic work as laboratory manager of the Molecular Genetics Diagnostics Laboratory of HUSE, his research activities and Genosalut. He is PI of the Genomics of Health Research Group that is englobed within the newly formed Institute for Research in Health of the Balearic Islands (IDISPA). The main interests within the research group are molecular mechanisms leading to mutation in the human genome and the genetic basis of congenital heart defects (CDH), 22q11DS and Fragile X Syndrome (FXS). To date he has (co) authored more than 50 research papers.

Dr. Heine Suñer has led active collaborations with most of the human genetic research groups in Spain, and internationally with many groups.  Recently he was organizer of and Program Chair for the 9th Biennial International 22q11.2DS meeting in 2014 and is founding member and meeting secretary of the 22q11.2 Society.  In addition, his group participates in the The International Consortium on Brain and Behavior in 22q11.2 Deletion Syndrome, which is a consortium of 22 countries for study schizophrenia and 22q11.2 funded by the NIMH.

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