Daniel J. Rader, M.D.
Daniel J. Rader, M.D., makes the familiar drive from Philadelphia to Lancaster fairly often lately.
If it seems a little like coming home, that’s because it is.
Dr. Rader, now Chair of the Department of Genetics at the Perelman School of Medicine at Penn, grew up near Rohrerstown. His father, Glenn, was a minister at the Church of the Apostles United Church of Christ and namesake for the adjacent Rader Park.
Love for his math and science classes at Hempfield High School led him to consider a career in engineering. Then his mom pointed out that medicine would allow him to interact with people, another of his favorite activities.
“That got me thinking,” he said. “The idea of combining science with interpersonal connections and being able to help people was what led me to medicine.”
Dr. Rader graduated from Hempfield in 1977. The summer after his first year of medical school, he worked in a lab that was conducting cholesterol studies, a relatively backwater area of research at the time.
After time at Lehigh, med school and in New Haven and the National Institutes of Health, he joined the Penn faculty in 1994. His research interests have evolved from cholesterol and lipid disorders to applying genetics and genomics to biomedical research and clinical medicine, specifically in the area of disease prevention.
Dr. Rader is currently collaborating with LG Health in a number of research areas, including a familial hypercholesterolemia study with Rolf Andersen, M.D., Lars Andersen, and others at The Heart Group and the LG Health Research Institute. The study will use the electronic health record to identify people with possible familial hypercholesterolemia (FH), with follow-up genetic testing and extensive family-based screening.
“We’re really excited about this project,” he said. “This research could benefit people who don’t know they have FH and therefore lead to better treatment,” he said. “Many people with FH unfortunately go on to have early heart disease because they aren’t diagnosed.”
He also is working with LG Health Medical Director of Oncology Randall Oyer, M.D., on screening families for genetic risk of cancer, and with providers at The Clinic for Special Children in Strasburg.
Dr. Rader, who now lives in Center City Philadelphia, has become an “urban guy” who rides his bike to work. His four kids, all under age 13, can hardly believe that Dad once played hide-and-seek in cornfields.
“I still do miss the open spaces, the farmland, and believe it or not, the smells,” he said. “Those are some of my greatest memories of growing up in Lancaster County.”