Elaine Mardis graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Oklahoma with a B.S. degree in zoology. She then completed her Ph.D. in Chemistry and Biochemistry in 1989, also at Oklahoma. Following graduation, Dr. Mardis was a senior research scientist for four years at BioRad Laboratories in Hercules, CA.
In 1993, Dr. Mardis joined the faculty at Washington University School of Medicine. Recruited for her expertise in DNA sequencing and automation technology, she served as Director of Technology Development at the (then) Washington University Genome Sequencing Center, helping create methods and automation pipelines for sequencing the Human Genome. She has served as Co-director of the McDonnell Genome Institute since 2002. In 2014, Dr. Mardis was named the Robert E. and Louise F. Dunn Distinguished Professor of Medicine.
Dr. Mardis has research interests in the application of next-generation sequencing to characterize cancer genomes and transcriptomes, and using these data to support therapeutic decision-making. She co-led the teams that first used next-generation sequencing to characterize the whole genome of an AML patient (Nature 2008), first sequenced and compared a primary tumor to its metastasis and xenograft, and first reported whole genome sequencing of samples from a breast cancer clinical trial. Beyond cancer genomics discoveries, Dr. Mardis is leading efforts to facilitate the translation of basic science discoveries about human genetic diseases into the clinical setting, especially focused on the use of next-generation sequencing. Her translational research efforts aim to devise NGS-based diagnostics, decision-support tools and databases, and the use of genomics to design personalized cancer vaccines.
Dr. Mardis was elected to the AACR Board of Directors in 2015. She serves as an associate editor of Molecular Cancer Research, Disease Models and Mechanisms and Annals of Oncology, and acts as a reviewer for Nature, the New England Journal, Cell and Science. She is the Editor-in-Chief of Molecular Case Studies. She serves on the scientific advisory boards of Qiagen Ingenuity, DNA Nexus, and ZS Genetics, and is a member of the Supervisory Board of Qiagen N.V. Dr. Mardis received the 2010 Scripps Translational Research award for her work on cancer genomics, and was named a Distinguished Alumni of the University of Oklahoma College of Arts and Sciences in 2011. Discover Magazine featured her work in cancer genomics as one of their top 100 science stories of 2013. In 2014 and 2015, she was one of the most highly cited researchers in the world, according to Thompson-Reuters. She will receive the Morton K. Schwartz award from the American Association of Clinical Chemistry for Significant Contributions in Cancer Research Diagnostics in 2016.