Bioinformatics & Systems Biology

The Bioinformatics & Systems Biology (BISB) doctoral program covers a wide array of topics to address questions in biomedical research from novel algorithm development to the application of bioinformatics tools for knowledge discovery.  The research opportunities and curriculum in the BISB doctoral program is designed to meet the needs of students with formal training in biological and/or computational sciences.  Applicants with dual training in computational and life sciences will be given preference in admissions; however, those with strong credentials in only one area but demonstrate some level of proficiency in the complementary area will also be considered.  Admitted students in the program with deficiencies will received additional training (didactic course work, journal clubs, focused workshops, etc.) in the complementary areas.  The expertise of the participating faculty members varies widely from pure wet lab research to pure computational research. Students have the option to choose co-mentors to provide bioinformatics and biological expertise or to or work exclusively with one mentor with bioinformatics expertise. Most of the research projects involve bioinformatic data analyses either preceding (hypothesis-generation) or succeeding (hypothesis-testing) an experimental component. 

The BISB program is jointly administered by faculty at UNMC and UNO, two sister campuses with diverse and complementary strengths in areas such as genomics, bioinformatics, computer science, mathematics, statistics, systems biology, etc. The two campuses offer a vibrant learning environment and rich research resources including supercomputers for high-throughput data analysis tasks. The average time to graduate with a PhD at UNMC is about 5 years.  Upon degree completion, students from the BISB doctoral program will be well positioned for a variety of career paths in the rapidly growing field of bioinformatics.

Research Areas

New method or algorithm development in bioinformatics: Active method/algorithm development in the areas of cancer genomics, neuroinformatics, immunoinformatics, microbial metagenomics, structural bioinformatics, graph-theory based biological network analysis, and natural language processing (NLP).

Application of bioinformatics in systems biology research: Research in this area typically involves both experimental and bioinformatics aspects of a project in a basic science research laboratory at UNMC.  Broad research topics include analysis of multi-omic datasets (genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics, metabolomics, etc), pathway and network analyses, agent-based modeling, drug repurposing, microbiome characterization in health and disease states, etc.

Mathematical/statistical applications in bioinformatics: Developing novel statistical approaches to study splice variants in human cancers or immunogenicity of protein variants, survival analysis and disease risk prediction using molecular and clinical datasets, mathematical modeling to characterize/visualize high-dimensional experimental data in biology, etc.