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The space at NCRC not only affords DCM&B physical proximity to collaborators, including the DNA Sequencing Lab and the Michigan Institute for Clinical and Health Research, but Department Chair Brian D. Athey, PhD, Michael A. Savageau Collegiate Professor, reports that it is also attracting top new research faculty and helping the department train the next generation of bioinformaticians. “Modern biomedical research is now digital, so having the means to organize and analyze this information both at the individual and population level is critical.”

Athey says the location benefits not only the department, but the entire university and medical school. Since expanding to NCRC last year, the Department of Computational Medicine and Bioinformatics (DCM&B) has been successful in:

  • Establishing four new labs, including several wet labs that will be used largely to validate findings from its computerized data analysis
  • Forming and helping to spearhead transSMART, an enterprising public-private partnership to develop a data sharing and analytic platform for clinical and translational research in the US and Europe
  • Securing new faculty members, post-docs and emerging scholars in the field
  • Partnering with Emergency Medicine in the recruitment of Kayvan Nagarian, who will be a key leader in the recently approved Michigan Center for Integrative Research (MCIRCC)

“Our charge is to be the institutional leader across the entire spectrum of biomedical informatics disciplines. The interdisciplinary culture that the NCRC exemplifies will no doubt help us get there.”

Athey also sees unique opportunities to grow the department in the area of translational bioinformatics—that is, applying the department’s expertise in proteomics, genomics, metabolomics and other data and bringing it together with the world of diseases, conditions and health care. For example, linking laboratory measurements and electronic medical records IN ORDER TO LEARN MORE ABOUT WHAT?

“This could be very powerful in helping us to understand complex diseases and conditions and accelerate research,” said Dr. Athey. “We are making progress, and NCRC is certainly helping us.”

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