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GenBioOrg student group announces seminar series lineup for fall semester


BLACKSBURG, Va., Sept. 8, 2010 – GenBioOrg, an organization for students in Virginia Tech's Genetics, Bioinformatics, and Computational Biology Ph.D. program, has announced the lineup for its invited speaker series for the fall 2010 semester, which will include an opening talk by Hamid Bolouri, research faculty in the Division of Human Biology at the Fred Hutchinson Research Center in Seattle, Wash., and visiting associate faculty in the Division of Biology at the California Institute of Technology.

Bolouri’s talk, “Reproducible Research in Genomics and Systems Biology,” will be held on Sept. 16, at 4 p.m. in the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute's conference center, which is located on Washington Street on the Virginia Tech campus. The event is free and open to the public. 

Bolouri will outline the challenges computational and systems biologists face when trying to analyze the volumes of complex data resulting from the use of high-throughput technologies, particularly when dealing with human genomics and biomedical research. He will present information about CRdata.org, an online resource designed to facilitate the use, exploration, and sharing of high-throughput data and associated analysis scripts, and discuss the opportunities this type of resource can provide for researchers.

With a Ph.D. in microelectronic systems architecture from Brunel University, United Kingdom, Bolouri has been a leader in the development of several computational biology resources, including the Systems Biology Markup Language (SBML), which is a computer-readable format for describing qualitative and quantitative models of biochemical reaction networks. SBML is currently used in over 180 software packages to enable the sharing and publishing of models in a form other researchers can use in various software environments. He has authored the books, Computational Modeling of Gene Regulatory Networks – A Primer and Personal Genomics and Personalized Medicine.

The seminar series will include talks by well-known researchers throughout the fall 2010 and spring 2011 semesters. In addition to a lecture, each researcher will have the opportunity to meet with graduate students during their visits to the Virginia Tech campus. The following is the complete schedule for the GenBioOrg seminar series for the fall 2010 semester:

  • Oct. 14: Ran Kafri, post-doctoral research fellow at Harvard Medical School, whose research interests include genetic redundancy, cell growth, and signal transduction.
  • Nov. 18: Jason Papin, assistant professor of biomedical engineering at the University of Virginia. His research interests include the construction and analysis of large-scale biochemical networks and their application to human disease.

"The [Genetics, Bioinformatics, and Computational Biology program] students through their student organization, GenBioOrg, continue to bring to campus premier scientists working in areas relevant to genomics, bioinformatics, and computational biology. Their efforts increase the visibility of the [Genetics, Bioinformatics, and Computational Biology] program and greatly enhance the impact of our seminar series," said David Bevan, associate professor in Virginia Tech's Department of Biochemistry and chair of the Genetics, Bioinformatics, and Computational Biology Program Steering Committee.

Founded by three Virginia Tech Genetics, Bioinformatics, and Computational Biology students in 2006, GenBioOrg was established to help provide academic, educational, and social cohesiveness for Genetics, Bioinformatics, and Computational Biology students. With a current roster of 44 members, the group works to promote the program and field of study to the Virginia Tech community, which includes inviting external speakers to give campus-wide seminars at the university. The invited speaker series is jointly funded by the Transdisciplinary Team Science Fellowship Program for the Life Sciences, Virginia Tech's Initiative to Maximize Student Diversity (IMSD) Program, and University Unions and Student Activities, which is part of Virginia Tech’s Division of Student Affairs.

Virginia Tech's Tech's Genetics, Bioinformatics, and Computational Biology Ph.D. program encompasses applications of molecular biology, genomics, mathematics, statistics, and computer science to all areas of the life sciences. Tailored individually to students' needs, the program spans traditional departmental boundaries and allows students enrolled in a program to work with faculty from many departments and colleges.

A university-level Research Institute of Virginia Tech, the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute was established in 2000 with an emphasis on informatics of complex interacting systems scaling the microbiome to the entire globe. It helps solve challenges posed to human health, security, and sustainability. Headquartered at the Blacksburg campus, the institute occupies 154,600 square feet in research facilities, including state-of-the-art core laboratory and high-performance computing facilities, as well as research offices in the Virginia Tech Research Center in Arlington, Virginia.