Bioinformatics for Health Research

Fiona Brinkman


Bioinformatics research has become increasingly interdisciplinary as it draws further upon areas within computer science, software engineering, mathematics, statistics, physics, and a wide range of biological and other sub-disciplines. The Bioinformatics for Health Research program involves a collection of interdisciplinary research projects that promote student training in this area and facilitates interactions between researchers from different backgrounds in the computational, biological and other related sciences. This novel program is the first of its kind in Canada and was the highest ranked CIHR (Canadian Institutes for Health Research) grant in its category. It involves a combination of 4-8 month subprojects, longer graduate student thesis projects, and a series of meetings to facilitate interaction. All research is centered around developing novel bioinformatics approaches to improve human health. There is a focus on new algorithm development for analysis of genomic (all genes in an organism) and proteomic (all proteins in an organism) data from humans, model animals, and infectious disease microorganisms.Students in this program come from diverse backgrounds in the applied and natural sciences and it is felt that only through frequent interaction with each other will these students truly be able to benefit from their interdisciplinary knowledge. However, currently the students in this funded program have no "home". There has therefore been a strong endorsement by the Director of this program, Steven Jones (BCGSC and adjunct of MBB), the SFU co-Director of this program, David Baillie (MBB), and members of the program committee, that these students be housed in the IRMACS facility as "regular" members. It is hoped that a bioinformatics core centered around this program and located in IRMACS will benefit greatly from interaction with other researchers in this interdisciplinary facility. These students, with their own interdisciplinary background will also hopefully benefit other researchers in the facility, and may help stimulate further collaborations within different research groups at SFU.