Putting GA4GH standards into practice: Mallory Freeberg and Alastair Thomson to lead GA4GH Implementation Forum

6 Mar 2024

Please join us in welcoming Mallory Freeberg and Alastair Thomson as the new Co-Leads of the GA4GH Implementation Forum (GIF). Read about their background and the future trajectory of GIF.

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The Global Alliance for Genomics and Health (GA4GH) is pleased to announce the appointment of Mallory Freeberg and Alastair Thomson as Co-Leads of the GA4GH Implementation Forum (GIF). Their appointments mark a significant milestone for the group as it continues to advance GA4GH product use in real-world initiatives.

In their new roles, Freeberg and Thomson will leverage their expertise in collaboration and innovation to support the adoption of GA4GH products and tools. They aim to work closely with organisations in the genomics and health community to address key challenges and promote best practices in genomic data sharing.

With an extensive background in bioinformatics, genomic data standards, and interoperability, Freeberg has been instrumental in driving collaborative efforts within the genomics community, particularly in the European context. At EMBL’s European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI), Freeberg is the Coordinator for the European Genome-phenome Archive (EGA), where she oversees services for responsible reuse of sensitive human data. Freeberg also contributes to projects aiming to federate these services, such as Federated EGA and the European Genomic Data Infrastructure project, a GA4GH Driver Project. She also serves as a GA4GH Driver Project Champion for EGA. 

Commenting on the new direction of GIF, Freeberg said, “I would like to see GIF provide more structured and inclusive opportunities for GA4GH standards developers to share their work and for implementers to share their experiences. There is so much to be learned from the vast network of GA4GH contributors.” 

Thomson serves as Acting Director for Data Innovation at the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA H). In this role, Thomson aims to define and build a new generation of data infrastructure, with a focus on emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, and cloud computing. Thomson was formerly the Chief Information Officer (CIO) at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), where he spearheaded transformative initiatives to enhance data management and analysis capabilities. His deep understanding of computational biology and data science makes him a valuable addition to the GIF leadership team.

Thomson said, “having implemented several GA4GH products at NHLBI, I know it can be really hard to do. As a community, we need to better share the perspectives and decisions that go into a product’s development so that implementers will know how and when to use it effectively.”

Peter Goodhand, CEO of GA4GH, expressed his excitement for the trajectory of GIF. “This is a really interesting time and space for GA4GH. GIF was created to promote the implementation and integration of GA4GH products. With Mallory and Alastair’s leadership, we are well positioned to make that vision a reality.”

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