Faculty Database:
[Research Interest: Bioinformatics]

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NameEmailPhd ProgramResearch InterestsPublications
Belger, Aysenil email , , , publications

Dr. Belger’s research focuses on studies of the cortical circuits underlying attention and executive function in the human brain, as well as the breakdown in these functions in neuropsychiatric and neurodevelopment disorders such as schizophrenia and autism.  Her research also examines changes in cortical circuits and their physiological properties in individuals at high risk for psychotic disorders.  Dr. Belger combines functional magnetic resonance imaging, electrophysiological scalp recording, experimental psychology and neuropsychological assessment techniques to explore the behavioral and neurophysiological dimensions of higher order executive functions.  Her most recent research projects have begun focusing on electrophysiological abnormalities in young autistic children and individuals at high risk for schizophrenia.

Berg, Jonathan email , , , , , publications

My research group is broadly interested in the application of sequencing technologies in medical genetics and genomics, using a combination of wet lab and computational approaches.  As a clinician, I am actively involved in the care of patients with hereditary disorders, and the research questions that my group investigates have direct relevance to patient care.  One project uses genome sequencing in families with likely hereditary cancer susceptibility in order to identify novel genes that may be involved in monogenic forms of cancer predisposition.  Another major avenue of investigation examines the use of genome-scale sequencing in clinical medicine, ranging from diagnostic testing to newborn screening, to screening in healthy adults.

Calabrese, J. Mauro email , , , , , , , , , publications

Our lab is trying to understand the mechanisms by which long noncoding RNAs orchestrate the epigenetic control of gene expression. Relevant examples of this type of gene regulation occur in the case of X-chromosome inactivation and autosomal imprinting. We specialize in genomics, but rely a combination of techniques –  including genetics, proteomics, and molecular, cell and computational biology — to study these processes in both mouse and human stem and somatic cell systems.

Carter, Charles email , , , , , , publications

Molecular evolution and mechanistic enzymology find powerful synergy in our study of aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases, which translate the genetic code. Class I Tryptophanyl-tRNA Synthetase stores free energy as conformational strain imposed by long-range, interactions on the minimal catalytic domain (MCD) when it binds ATP.  We study how this allostery works using X-ray crystallography, bioinformatics, molecular dynamics, enzyme kinetics, and thermodynamics. As coding sequences for class I and II MCDs have significant complementarity, we also pursuing their sense/antisense ancestry.  Member of the Molecular & Cellular Biophysics Training Program.

Dayan, Eran email , , , publications

Our lab studies brain network connectivity in the healthy brain and in neurological and neuropsychiatric patient populations. We focus on the organizational, dynamical, and computational properties of large-scale brain networks and determine how these properties contribute to human behavior in health and disease. We strive to advance the basic understanding of brain structure and function, while making discoveries that can be translated to clinical practice.

Dokholyan, Nikolay email , , , , , publications

The mission of my laboratory is to develop and apply integrated computational and experimental strategies to understand, sense, and control misfolded proteins, and uncover the etiologies of human diseases. UNDERSTAND: We are working toward understanding of the protein misfolding diseases, such as Lou Gehrig’s disease and cystic fibrosis.. Other areas of interest include HIV, Graft versus Host disease (fatal autoimmune response to bone marrow transplant), and understanding and developing new drugs for pain. SENSE: We are working toward developing genetically-encoded proteins that bind and report rare/intermediate conformations of target molecules (proteins and RNA). CONTROL: We are working toward developing genetically-encoded proteins that control target proteins with light and/or drugs. We have developed novel approach for drug activation/deactivation of kinases, and light-activatable protein to manipulate protein function with light. We are working toward extending these approaches to other classes of proteins and on multiplexing, whereby we selectively activate/control several distinct cellular pathways via targeting several proteins simultaneously.

Dowen, Jill email , , , , , , publications

My lab studies how genes function within the three-dimensional context of the nucleus to control development and prevent disease. We combine genomic approaches (ChIP-Seq, ChIA-PET) and genome editing tools (CRISPR) to study the epigenetic mechanisms by which transcriptional regulatory elements control gene expression in embryonic stem cells.  Our current research efforts are divided into 3 areas: 1) Mapping the folding pattern of the genome 2) Dynamics of three-dimensional genome organization as cells differentiate and 3) Functional analysis of altered chromosome structure in cancer and other diseases.

Franco, Hector L. email , , , , , publications

My lab has a long-standing interest in gene regulation, epigenetics, chromatin and RNA biology, especially as it pertains to cancer. We are interested in studying the formation and function of transcriptional enhancers and the non-coding RNAs that are actively produced at enhancers, known as enhancer RNAs, which are involved in modulating several aspects of gene regulation. In addition, we aim to understand how transcriptional enhancers help orchestrate responses to external stimuli found in the tumor microenvironment. We address these research aims by using an interdisciplinary approach that combines molecular and cellular techniques with powerful genomic and computational approaches.

Gomez, Shawn email , , , , publications

Our primary research is in the area of computational systems biology, with particular interest in the study of biological signaling networks; trying to understand their structure, evolution and dynamics. In collaboration with wet lab experimentalists, we develop and apply computational models, including probabilistic graphical and multivariate methods along with more traditional engineering approaches such as system identification and control theory, to current challenges in molecular biology and medicine. Examples of recent research projects include: prediction of protein interaction networks, multivariate modeling of signal transduction networks, and development of methods for integrating large-scale genomic data sets.

Hemminger, Brad email publications

bioinformatics, scholarly communications, digital libraries, user interface design, annotation, virtual environments, medical informatics, databases and datamining.

Hicks, Leslie M. email , , , , publications

Research in the Hicks lab focuses on development and implementation of mass spectrometric approaches for protein characterization including post-translational modifications, as well as the identification of bioactive peptides/proteins from plants. Keywords: proteins / peptides, proteomics, PTM, enzymes, analytical chemistry, mass spectrometry, separations / chromatography, plants, algae

Ibrahim, Joseph G email , , , publications

My research involves developing statistical methods in computational biology, including  methods Chip-seq data as well as the development of statistical methods for gene expression and sequence data.

Johnson, Gary L. email , , , , publications

Spatio-temporal regulation of signal relay systems in cells using live cell fluorescence imaging and targeted gene disruption of signaling proteins to define their role in development, physiology and pathophysiology.

Jones, Alan email , , , , , , , publications

The Jones lab is interested in heterotrimeric G protein-coupled signaling and uses genetic model systems to dissect signaling networks.  The G-protein complex serves as the nexus between cell surface receptors and various downstream enzymes that ultimately alter cell behavior. Metazoans have a hopelessly complex repertoire of G-protein complexes and cell surface receptors so we turned to the reference plant, Arabidopsis thaliana, and the yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, as our models because these two organisms have only two potential G protein complexes and few cell surface receptors.  Their simplicity and the ability to genetically manipulate genes in these organisms make them powerful tools.  We use a variety of cell biology approaches, sophisticated imaging techniques, 3-D protein structure analyses, forward and reverse genetic approaches, and biochemistries.

Laederach, Alain email , , , , , publications

The Laederach Lab is interested in better understanding the relationship between RNA structure and folding and human disease. We use a combination of computational and experimental approaches to study the process of RNA folding and in the cells. In particular, we develop novel approaches to analyze and interpret chemical and enzymatic mapping data on a genomic scale. We aim to fundamentally understand the role of RNA structure in controlling post-transcriptional regulatory mechanisms, and to interpret structure as a secondary layer of information (http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v505/n7485/full/505621a.html).  We are particularly interested in how human genetic variation affects RNA regulatory structure. We investigate the relationship between disease-associated Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms occurring in Human UTRs and their effect on RNA structure to determine if they form a RiboSNitch.

Liu, Yufeng email , publications

Statistical machine learning and data mining, nonparametric statistics and functional estimation, bioinformatics, design and analysis of experiments

Maddox, Amy Shaub email , , , , , , , publications

My research philosophy is summed up by a quote from Nobelist Albert Szent-Gyorgyi: “Discovery is to see what everybody has seen and to think what nobody has thought.” My lab studies the molecular and physical mechanisms of cell shape change during cytokinesis and tissue biogenesis during development. Specifically, we are defining how cells ensure proper alignment and sliding of cytoskeletal filaments, and determining the shape of the cell throughout division. To do so, we combine developmental biology, cell biology, biochemistry, and quantitative image analysis.

Marchetti, Adrian email , , , , publications

We are a biological oceanography lab that performs inquiry-based science by combining physiological and molecular approaches in laboratory isolates and natural communities to investigate how marine microorganisms are affected by their environment and in turn, influence ocean biogeochemistry and ecosystem dynamics. Particular interests include studying trace metals, such as iron, that are essential for the nutrition of phytoplankton and predicting the effects of future climate changes on phytoplankton distribution and abundance.  We implement the use of environmental genomic approaches (e.g. RNA-seq) to ascertain the ways in which marine microbes have adapted and acclimate to varying environmental conditions.

McKay, Daniel email , , , , , , publications

Research in the lab focuses on how a single genome gives rise to a variety of cell types and body parts during development. We use Drosophila as a model organism to investigate (1) how transcription factors access DNA to regulate complex patterns of gene expression, and (2) how post-translational modification of histones contributes to maintenance of gene expression programs over time. We combine genomic approaches (e.g. chromatin immunoprecipitation followed by high-throughput sequencing) with Drosophila genetics and transgenesis to address both of these questions. Defects in cell fate specification and maintenance of cell identity often occur in human diseases, including cancer.

Miller, C. Ryan email , , , , , , , , , , publications

My laboratory studies diffuse gliomas, devastating primary tumors of the central nervous system for which few effective drugs are currently available.  We utilize genetically engineered mice, cell culture, and human tumor model systems to explore the molecular pathogenesis of gliomas.  We utilize animal model systems to develop drugs and diagnostic markers for their individualized therapy.  Rotating students gain experience with multiple techniques, including cell culture, molecular biology, genomics, genetic lineage tracing, fluorescence microscopy, and digital image analysis.

Mohlke, Karen email , , , , , publications

We identify genetic variants that influence common human traits with complex inheritance patterns, and we examine the molecular and biological mechanisms of the identified variants and the genes they affect. Currently we are investigating susceptibility to type 2 diabetes and obesity, and variation in cholesterol levels, body size, body shape, and metabolic traits. We detect allelic differences in chromatin structure and gene expression and examine gene function in human cell lines and tissues. In addition to examining the primary effects of genes, the lab is exploring the interaction of genes with environmental risk factors in disease pathogenesis. Approaches include genome-wide association studies, molecular biology, cell biology, genetic epidemiology, sequencing, and bioinformatic analysis of genome-wide data sets.

Mucha, Peter J. email , publications

We embrace an interdisciplinary approach to data science focused on networks and network representations, using mathematical models and statistical principles to develop computational tools for real-world data. With “nodes” representing objects of interest and “edges” that connect the nodes representing relationships or similarities, the concept of a network can be flexibly used across many applications. Our collaborations have included researchers in Biostatistics, Epidemiology, Infectious Diseases, Neuroscience, and Pharmacology.

Neher, Saskia email , , , , , publications

Our lab seeks to better understand the maturation and regulation of a group of human lipases.  We aim to uncover how these lipases properly fold and exit the ER, and how their activity is subsequently regulated.  We study the membrane-bound and secreted proteins that play a role in lipase regulation.  Our research can potentially impact human health as biochemical deficiencies in lipase activity can cause hypertriglyceridemia and associated disorders, such as diabetes and atherosclerosis.  We are an interdisciplinary lab and aim to address these questions using a variety of techniques, including membrane protein biochemistry, enzymology, and structural and molecular biology.

Pardo-Manuel de Villena, Fernando email , , , , , , publications

Non-Mendelian genetics including, meiotic drive, parent-of-orifin effects and allelic exclusion.

Pecot, Chad Victor email , , , , publications

The development of metastases is the cause of death in nearly all cancer patients, yet the mechanisms driving metastatic biology remain poorly understood. Also, few cancer therapeutics are being developed to specifically control this problem. My laboratory is interested in discovering novel mechanisms that drive metastatic biology, and in utilizing RNA interference (RNAi) strategies (such as nanoparticle delivery of miRNAs/siRNAs) to control this process. We will apply integrative analysis of large bioinformatic datasets, in vitro studies for mechanistic validation, and in vivo metastasis models to assess therapeutic efficacy of our RNAi approaches.

Peet, Robert email , , , , publications

My research focuses on plant community ecology and such related fields as plant geography, conservation biology, ecoinformatics and plant population ecology. I am particularly interested in how plant communities are assembled and vary across landscapes.   Toward this end I am helping define the emerging discipline of ecoinformatics through development of international databases and standards for large-scale data integration and exchange.  My current research on the vegetation of the Southeastern United States includes on-going studies of the long-term dynamics of Southeastern forests, human impacts on floodplain ecosystems, targets for restoration, and more generally factors influencing the composition and species diversity of terrestrial plant communities across a range of spatial scales.

Perou, Charles M. email , , , , , , , publications

The focus of my lab is to characterize the biological diversity of human tumors using genomics, genetics, and cell biology, and then to use this information to develop improved treatments that are specific for each tumor subtype and for each patient. A significant contribution of ours towards the goal of personalized medicine has been in the genomic characterization of human breast tumors, which identified the Intrinsic Subtypes of Breast Cancer. We study many human solid tumor disease types using multiple experimental approaches including RNA-sequencing (RNA-seq), DNA exome sequencing, Whole Genome Sequencing, cell/tissue culturing, and Proteomics, with a particular focus on the Basal-like/Triple Negative Breast Cancer subtype. In addition, we are mimicking these human tumor alterations in Genetically Engineered Mouse Models, and using primary tumor Patient-Derived Xenografts, to investigate the efficacy of new drugs and new drug combinations. All of these genomic and genetic studies generate large volumes of data; thus, a significant portion of my lab is devoted to using genomic data and a systems biology approach to create computational predictors of complex cancer phenotypes.

Phanstiel, Doug email , , , , publications

It is estimated that less than 2% of the human genome codes for a functional protein.  Scattered throughout the rest of the genome are regulatory regions that can exert control over genes hundreds of thousands of base pairs away through the formation of DNA loops.  These loops regulate virtually all biological functions but play an especially critical role in cellular differentiation and human development. While this phenomenon has been known for thirty years or more, only a handful of such loops have been functionally characterized.  In our lab we use a combination of cutting edge genomics (in situ Hi-C, ATAC-seq, ChIP-seq), proteomics, genome editing (CRISPR/Cas), and bioinformatics to characterize and functionally interrogate dynamic DNA looping during monocyte differentiation.  We study this process both in both healthy cells and in the context of rheumatoid arthritis and our findings have broad implications for both cell biology as well as the diagnosis and treatment of human disease.

Prins, Jan F. email , , , , publications

Our group develops computational methods for the analysis of high throughput sequence data.  Our focus is on transcriptome analysis and its applications.

Sethupathy, Praveen email , , , , , publications

The overall goal of my research program is to define the role of non-coding RNAs in gene regulatory networks that contribute to the molecular pathology of complex diseases, with a primary focus on diabetes and related metabolic disorders.  Specifically, my lab investigates: (1) the contribution of small RNA networks to gene expression dynamics; (2) small RNA mediated regulation of metabolic pathways; (3) non-coding RNAs as both biomarkers of physiologic status and therapeutic targets; (4) regulatory variants within the microRNA (miRNA) regulome that predispose to disease; and (5) novel forms of intercellular communication via regulated transfer of small RNAs.

Shiau, Celia email , , , , , , , publications

The Shiau Lab is integrating in vivo imaging, genetics, genome editing, functional genomics, bioinformatics, and cell biology to uncover and understand innate immune functions in development and disease. From single genes to individual cells to whole organism, we are using the vertebrate zebrafish model to reveal and connect mechanisms at multiple scales. Of particular interest are 1) the genetic regulation of macrophage activation to prevent inappropriate inflammatory and autoimmune conditions, and 2) how different tissue-resident macrophages impact vertebrate development and homeostasis particularly in the brain and gut, such as the role of microglia in brain development and animal behavior.

Stein, Jason email , , , , , publications

We are a lab exploring how variations in the genome change the structure and development of the brain, and in doing so, create risk for neuropsychiatric illness. We study genetic effects on multiple aspects of the human brain, from macroscale phenotypes like gross human brain structure measured with MRI to molecular phenotypes like gene expression and chromatin accessibility measured with genome-sequencing technologies. We also use neural progenitor cells as a modifiable and high fidelity model system to understand how disease-associated variants affect brain development.

Sullivan, Patrick email , , , , , publications

I study complex traits using linkage, association, and genetic epidemiological approaches.  Disorders include schizophrenia (etiology and pharmacogenetics), smoking behavior, and chronic fatigue.

Troester, Melissa email , , , , publications

Dr. Troester’s research focuses on stromal-epithelial interactions, genomics of normal breast tissue, breast cancer microenvironment, and molecular pathology of breast cancer progression. She is a Co-Investigator on the Carolina Breast Cancer Study (CBCS), a resource including breast tumors from thousands of African American women, and she is PI of the Normal Breast Study (NBS), a unique biospecimen resource of normal tissue from women undergoing breast surgery at UNC Hospitals. Dr. Troester has extensive experience in integrating multiple high dimensional data types. She is chair of the Normal Breast Committee for the Cancer Genome Atlas Project where she is leading coordination of histology, copy number, mutation, methylation, mRNA and microRNA expression data. She has more than a decade of experience working with genomic data and molecular biology of breast cancer progression and has published many papers in the area of breast cancer subtypes, breast microenvironment, and stromal-epithelial interactions. She has trained four postdocs, 12 predoctoral students and several undergraduates.

Tropsha, Alexander email , , , , , , , publications

The major area of our research is Biomolecular Informatics, which implies understanding relationships between molecular structures (organic or macromolecular) and their properties (activity or function). We are interested in building validated and predictive quantitative models that relate molecular structure and its biological function using statistical and machine learning approaches. We exploit these models to make verifiable predictions about putative function of untested molecules.

Valdar, William email , , , , publications

We are a quantitative genetics lab interested the relationship between genes and complex disease. Most of our work focuses on developing statistical and computational techniques for the design and analysis of genetic experiments in animal models. This includes, for example: Bayesian hierarchical modeling of gene by drug effects in crosses of inbred mouse strains; statistical methods for identifying quantitative trait loci (QTL) in a variety of experimental mouse populations (including the Collaborative Cross); computational methods for optimal design of studies on parent of origin effects; modeling of diet by gene by parentage interactions that affecting psychiatric disease; detection and estimation of genetic effects on phenotypic variability. For more information, visit the lab website.

Vision, Todd email , , , , , , publications

Our lab uses computational and molecular tools to study the evolution of genome organization, primarily in the flowering plants. Areas of
investigation include the origin and consequences of differences in gene order within populations and between species, the evolutionary and functional diversification of gene families (phytome.org), and the application of genomics to evolutionary model organisms (mimulusevolution.org).  We also are involved in a number of cyberinfrastructure initiatives through the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (nescent.org), including work on digital scientific libraries (datadryad.org), open bioinformatic software development (e.g. gmod.org) and the application of semantic web technologies to biological data integration (phenoscape.org).

Wilhelmsen, Kirk email , , , , publications

The Wilhelmsen lab is engaged in the genetic mapping of susceptibility loci for complex neurological diseases and has been developing large-scale automated gene mapping technologies to facilitate these mapping efforts. They have invested heavily in automation that enables high-throughput genotyping and data processing. As data accumulates, this will enable parametric and nonparametric linkage analysis of large numbers of traits at regular intervals for the entire genome. The Wilhelmsen lab is applying these techniques to two projects: (1) the genetics of alcoholism and (2) positional cloning of the gene responsible for a family of disorders called frontotemporal dementia and parkinsonism linked to chromosome 17 (FTDP-17).

Wright, Fred email , publications

Statistical genetics, bioinformatics, likelihood- based inference

Wu, Di email , , , , publications

Our group develops novel statistical bioinformatics tools and applies them in biomedical research to help understanding the precision medicine for cancer (e.g., breast cancer and lung cancer) subtypes, the disease associated integrative pathways across multiple genomic regulatory levels, and the genetics based drug repurposing mechanisms. Our recent focus includes pathway analysis, microbiome data analysis, data integration and electronica medical records (EMR). Our application fields include cancer, stem cell, autoimmune disease and oral biology. In the past, we have developed gene set testing methods with high citations, in the empirical Bayesian framework, to take care of small complex design and genewise correlation structure. These have been widely used in the microarray and RNAseq based gene expression analysis. Contamination detection for data analysis for Target DNA sequencing is work in progress. Recently, we also work on single cell sequencing data for pathway analysis with the local collaborators.