John Harvard's Journal
Jonathan and Christine Seidman
As youngsters they were far aparthe spent much of his youth in Ghana, she grew up on Long Islandbut they met at Harvard, married in 1973, and share a deep tie of the heart, in more ways than one. Jonathan G. Seidman '71, Bugher Foundation professor of cardiovascular genetics, and Christine Edry Seidman '74, professor of both medicine and genetics, co-direct a lab at the Medical School that aims to understand the causes of hereditary heart disease. The Seidmans have scientific synergy: she's an M.D. and cardiologist, he's a Ph.D. and geneticist. They study familiesof up to 100 memberspredisposed to inherited diseases like hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, in which the wall of the heart, normally a centimeter thick, can become threefold thicker, triggering arrhythmias and sudden death. Using blood samples, the Seidman lab looks for a segment of familial DNA that is inherited along with the disease. "If the DNA is a coast-to-coast road," says Jonathan, "you're looking for a mutation in a gene corresponding to a span of six feet." They study the heart muscle, not its arteries, and this year shared the Bristol-Myers Squibb Award for Distinguished Achievement in Cardiovascular Research. The Seidmans have three childrenthe oldest, Dominika, is a Harvard seniorand, despite long days in the lab, find time to sail in Maine and garden. "He likes to propel the pace of research," says Christine, known as Kricket. "I'm slow." Her spouse counters that "Kricket picks up new directions, new avenues." For their lab researchers, "The good news is that you'll get two pieces of advice," Jonathan says. "The bad news is that you'll get two pieces of advice." And despite the Seidmans' closeness, all is not unity, he adds: "Our offices are four inches apart."