Vol. 12 No. 4 - November, 2009

Bioinformatics is ‘growing exponentially’

GSBS bioinformatics insert
UMMS Technology & Media Services
Konstantin Zeldovich, PhD; Jeffrey Bailey, PhD; and Zhiping Weng, PhD

 One of the most pressing challenges in biomedical research is understanding how to manage and analyze the ever-increasing quantities of molecular information generated in studies of DNA sequence, protein structure and complex signaling networks. This has created an unprecedented demand for new analytical approaches and has engendered the interdisciplinary science bioinformatics.

Bioinformatics research includes systems biology, computational modeling of regulatory and metabolic networks, docking, comparative genomics, protein design, genomic and proteomic biotechnology, microarray engineering and analysis, pharmacogenomics, structural biology, large scale modeling of biological systems, RNA structure, computational studies of cancer and neurological disorders and functional genomics, synthetic gene networks and molecular computing and genetics. While the number of expert bioinformaticians in this emerging field is limited, the number of students who are interested in graduate study in the field is, like the data sets they analyze, growing exponentially.

While the number of expert bioinformaticians in this emerging field is limited,

the number of students who are interested in graduate study in the field is, like the data sets they analyze, growing exponentially.

 Earlier this summer, Zhiping Weng, PhD, professor of biochemistry & molecular pharmacology and director of the program in Bioinformatics and Integrative Biology, approached GSBS Dean Anthony Carruthers about establishing a graduate program in bioinformatics and about offering advanced graduate courses in bioinformatics. An organizational meeting at the Annual Scientific Retreat in Woods Hole in October led to the establishment of a proposed plan for bioinformatics program in the GSBS.

The goals for the new program are to:
1. Initiate the Program in Bioinformatics & Genome Sciences by spring 2010;
2. Establish a spring semester advanced topics in bioinformatics course;
3. Establish a fall 2010 advanced topics course in evolution;
4. Map out a strategy for recruiting students to the GSBS with backgrounds in mathematics, physics, chemistry, computer sciences and biology;
5. Develop a new core-curriculum for bioinformatics students.

bioinformatics jensen
Jeffrey Jensen, PhD

 The first director of the program will be Dr. Weng and the initial roster of program faculty will include:

  • Schahram Akbarian, MD, PhD, associate professor of psychiatry
  • Victor Ambros, PhD, the Silverman Chair in Natural Sciences and professor of molecular medicine
  • Jeffrey A. Bailey, MD, PhD, assistant professor of medicine
  • Dan Bolon, PhD, assistant professor of biochemistry & molecular pharmacology
  • Robert H. Brown, MD, DPhil, chair and professor of neurology
  • Michael Czech, PhD, chair and professor of molecular medicine and biochemistry & molecular pharmacology
  • Job Dekker, PhD, associate professor of biochemistry & molecular pharmacology and molecular medicine
  • Michael Green, MD, PhD, Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, the Lambi and Sarah Adams Chair in Genetic Research and professor of molecular medicine and biochemistry & molecular pharmacology
  • Jeffrey Jensen, PhD, assistant professor of molecular medicine
  • Jane Lian, PhD, professor of cell biology
  • Francesca Massi, PhD, assistant professor of biochemistry & molecular pharmacolog
  • C. Robert Matthews, PhD, the Arthur F. and Helen P. Koskinas Professor of Biochemistry & Molecular Pharmacology and chair and professor of biochemistry & molecular pharmacology
  • Craig Mello, PhD, Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, Blais University Chair in Molecular Medicine and professor of molecular medicine and cell biology
  • Melissa Moore, PhD, Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator and professor of biochemistry & molecular pharmacology
  • Oliver Rando, MD, PhD, assistant professor of biochemistry & molecular pharmacology
  • Nick Rhind, PhD, associate professor of biochemistry & molecular pharmacology and cell biology
  • Sean Ryder, PhD, assistant professor of biochemistry & molecular pharmacology
  • Celia Schiffer, PhD, professor of biochemistry & molecular pharmacology
  • William Theurkauf, PhD, professor of molecular medicine
  • Marian Walhout, PhD, associate professor of molecular medicine
  • Scot Wolfe, PhD, associate professor of biochemistry & molecular pharmacology and molecular medicine
  • Phillip D. Zamore, PhD, Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, the Gretchen Cook Stone Chair of Biomedical Sciences and professor of biochemistry & molecular pharmacology
  • Konstantin Zeldovich, PhD, assistant professor of biochemistry & molecular pharmacology

For additional information about the Program in Bioinformatics and Integrative Biology, and faculty members’ active bioinformatics interests, visit: www.umassmed.edu/bioinformatics.