David G. Peters, Ph.D., Chief Scientific Officer and Co-Founder
For the better part of the past three decades, Dr. David Peters, a genome scientist, has been focused on the development of molecular and computational methods for the non-invasive early detection and phenotyping of complex human disease.
Peters has a strong track record of innovation and leadership. He has gained international recognition for his innovative work in translational genomics and has demonstrated an ability to generate novel ideas and build productive collaborative teams across a variety of clinical domains.
Dr. Peters obtained his undergraduate degree in Applied Biology from Liverpool Polytechnic in 1990 and his PhD in Genetics from the University of Liverpool in the 1994. In 1995, Dr Peters joined the Department of Human Genetics at the University of Pittsburgh where he undertook post-doctoral training. Dr. Peters was appointed as Assistant Professor of Human Genetics at the University of Pittsburgh in 1998. His early work focused on the population genetics and functional genomics of intracranial aneurysms.
As an expectant father, in 2001 and 2004, Dr. Peters became aware of the significant risk of the fetal loss associated with routine invasive prenatal genetic testing protocols such as amniocentesis and chorionic villus sampling. This experience sparked an interest in non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT).
In 2006, Dr. Peters joined the Department of Obstetrics, Gynaecology and Reproductive Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh as a Visiting Associate Professor. He immediately recruited Tianjiao Chu PhD, to his research group and together, in June 2007, they developed a method to detect fetal aneuploidy in cell-free DNA from maternal plasma, named “minimally invasive karyotyping (MINK)”.
The new innovation of MINK was that it could detect a maternally-inherited fetal genomic copy number anomaly in maternal plasma without physically separating maternal from fetal DNA. The MINK approach was shown to be able to detect fetal aneuploidy with high accuracy and this concept is now used globally as standard of care for NIPT. In 2011, Dr. Peters’ group went on to demonstrate that MINK could be used for the non-invasive plasma-based detection of small fetal microdeletions in early gestation. These findings were published in the new England Journal of medicine.
As a result of Dr. Peters’ activity in the field of liquid biopsy, the University of Pittsburgh has filed a number of patent applications based upon his work. This has resulted in a partnership with Signature Diagnostics, and a funded sponsored research agreement with Magee-Womens Research Institute to support the ongoing work in Dr. Peters laboratory, with focus on the continued development of epigenomic liquid biopsy approaches for the non-invasive detection and phenotyping in a variety of clinical contexts.