March 2016 Webinar Bios



Mark Harris, Ph.D., MBA
CEO and Founder NextGxDx

Drawing on a background in molecular biology and technology commercialization, Dr. Harris founded NextGxDx to bring efficiency and transparency to the growing field of genetic testing.  He leads a dynamic team of software engineers, data scientists and clinicians who are dedicated to overcoming the practical and systemic challenges associated with the effective use of genetic testing.  To date, his team has indexed and standardized data on more than 60,000 genetic testing products that fall into approximately 14,000 clinically relevant categories.

Before founding NextGxDx, Dr. Harris planned a Next Generation Sequencing platform for Athena Diagnostics. Deeply involved in the entrepreneurial ecosystem, he is a mentor for the JumpStart Foundry accelerator program and an advisor for several startup companies.

Dr. Harris earned his Ph.D. (Cancer Biology) and an MBA from Vanderbilt University.


Mike Astion, M.D., Ph.D.
Medical Director, Department of Laboratories
Seattle Children’s Hospital

Dr. Astion is medical director in the department of laboratories at Seattle Children’s Hospital and clinical professor of laboratory medicine at the University of Washington. For almost two decades he was the director of reference laboratory services at the University of Washington. His work is divided among clinical service, teaching, and research and development. He has authored more than 20 software titles, 40 peer-reviewed papers, and 40 editorials. His software, which has been translated into several languages, includes both laboratory tutorials and competency assessment exams. He is currently working with the insurance industry to create utilization management rules for clinical laboratory testing.

Dr. Astion is one of the founders of the Pediatric Laboratory Utilization Guidance Service (PLUGS), which helps pediatric hospitals and clinics increase the value of lab testing. He is a frequent speaker at professional meetings on issues related to test utilization, test interpretation, laboratory economics and outreach, and medical errors. He has received the American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science Theriot Award for Excellence in Media twice for his educational software. He has received AACC awards for outstanding contributions to patient safety and to management science. A frequent winner of the AACC outstanding speaker award, Dr. Astion has been active in the AACC, including as a symposium organizer for the 2005 Annual Meeting Organizing Committee and head of the patient safety taskforce.