Researchers receive grant to grow data science pipeline

Andrew Dudley, PhD, and Babu Guda, PhD

A research team in the UNMC Department of Genetics, Cell Biology and Anatomy has been awarded a five-year, $1.45 million grant through the National Institutes of Health to expand the pipeline of data scientists in bioinformatics.

Andrew Dudley, PhD, associate professor in the department, and Babu Guda, PhD, professor, are co-directors of the program named Decode, which stands for Developing Experts in Computation, ‘Omics and Data Exploration.

As directors of PhD programs, both Drs. Dudley and Guda noticed the domestic pipeline of applicants interested in bioinformatics was expanding more slowly than for international applicants, Dr. Dudley said.

“Applicants from the smaller colleges and universities across Nebraska and the Midwest region – the future workforce in the state – also seemed less aware of bioinformatics,” he said.

They applied for and received the grant through the National Institute of General Medical Sciences and its Initiative to Maximize Student Development. Officially, they obtained a predoctoral T32 training grant in the biomedical sciences.

Dr. Guda said the goal is to create a pipeline of data scientists who can accelerate the growth of biomedical science in Nebraska. The research community, he said, increasingly needs that workforce at a time when data production outpaces analytical capacity.

The program intends to broaden recruitment by offering focused training to first- and second-year graduate students already enrolled at UNMC, Dr. Dudley said. Through Decode, he said, big data analysis will be accessible to students regardless of their prior experience.

Dr. Guda said students in the program will take a set of courses at UNMC in the area of bioinformatics, in addition to completing a project team course.

The program also will offer specialized training that aims to develop students’ skills in being an effective team member, communicator and leader in the world of data-driven biomedical science.

Said Dr. Guda, “We created a program to prepare students for the diverse career paths in academia, government and industry, whether their primary interest is in bioinformatics and data science or traditional laboratory research.”

Creation of this program was championed by Vimla Band, PhD, Ardith and Anna Von Housen Professor and chair of the department, who has been advocating for the recruitment of faculty in bioinformatics and data disciplines at UNMC.

Dr. Band said the grant award affirms UNMC’s achievements in developing bioinformatics and data science expertise. Drs. Band, Dudley and Guda thanked Dele Davies, MD, senior vice chancellor for academic affairs, for his encouragement in securing this funding.

“I see the Decode training program as an important next step since the success of our students is a crucial factor in recruiting the next generation of exceptional faculty,” Dr. Band said. “Each depends on the other.”

Decode will be accepting the first cohort of students this August.


  1. Beth Beam says:

    Nice work. Congratulations all!

  2. Lynne says:

    Great news!!

  3. Parthasarathy Seshacharyulu says:

    Congratulations Drs. Guda and Dudely!

  4. Robert Bennett says:


  5. Siwei Zhao says:

    Congratulations Drs. Dudley and Guda!

  6. Robin M Taylor says:

    Congratulations Drs. Dudley and Guda! Good luck with Decode and your T32 grant.

  7. Jawed A Siddiqui says:


  8. Dr.T.Naga Lakshmi says:

    Hearty congratulations to Dr. Chitti Babu and Dr. Dudley

  9. Shelley Smith says:

    Congratulations! This is a very important step forward for UNMC and the region.

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