system's highest faculty honor
Dr. Bruce S. Weir, William Neal Reynolds Professor of statistics and genetics and director of the Bioinformatics Research Center at N.C. State University, has received the O. Max Gardner Award, the highest faculty honor presented by the Board of Governors of the University of North Carolina.
The award is presented each year to one faculty member from the system’s 16 campuses recognized as having “made the greatest contribution to the welfare of the human race.” The award was presented to Weir May 9 by UNC President Molly Corbett Broad.
Weir is one of the world’s foremost researchers on statistical analysis of DNA for forensic, human health and agricultural applications. He developed statistical tests of the frequency of genetic profiles that are now the standard for evaluating DNA evidence in forensic cases. He spearheaded reforms to the national guidelines on forensic DNA analyses, was instrumental in achieving acceptance of DNA evidence in courtrooms and is co-author of the definitive textbook on statistical inference in forensics. (Weir may be best known outside academic circles for testifying at the O.J. Simpson murder trial in 1995.)
He also established statistical measures of genetic linkage that are critical for mapping genes associated with human disease. The methods are widely used in gene mapping studies of complex traits such as diabetes and longevity.
Weir’s seminal work in genetic descent and recombination in inbred and mixed populations laid the foundation for describing genetic differentiation among groups of animals and plants and has led to continuing improvements in crop and livestock breeding.
As founding director of the Bioinformatics Research Center, Weir heads a program widely recognized as one of the world’s leading research and graduate training centers for the design and application of computational and statistical methods to problems in genomics.