Future Directions for the Bioinformatics Center - Penn State ...


Sep 29, 2013 (4 years and 7 months ago)


Future Directions
for the
Bioinformatics Center
Naomi Altman,
Dept. of Statistics
Penn State
revision of 2000 interview for
Bioinformatics Center Director
roles of the faculty beyond the
missions of the home departments
The role of a university center is to
enhance the
should be to bring together
biological and computational
scientists to do
cutting edge research
that none of us can do alone.
The role of the
Bioinformatics Center
Cutting Edge Research
in the
Information Era
•some of us are struggling to make
sense of a rapidly increasing ocean of
information •others are trying to piece together a
coherent picture from small oases of
The Information Ocean
Biological Themes
•Satellite Imaging
•Physiological Imaging
The Information Ocean
Computational Themes
•pattern recognition
•data mining
•spatial/temporal modeling
•high dimensional statistical models
•Bayesian modeling
•massive data sets
The Information Desert
Biological Themes
•Satellite Imaging
•Physiological Imaging
•Intervention Trials
The Information Desert
Computational Themes
•experimental design
•statistical methods
•spatial/temporal modeling
•Bayesian modeling
•mathematical modeling
The Roles of the Bioinformatics
•Strategic planning
•Engage university faculty
•Hire and support new faculty
•Train students at all levels
•Consult in quantitative methods
•Disseminate research results
•Partner with industry and agriculture
in the state, the U.S. and the world
•identify a cross-disciplinary
steering group for each program
area •create a strategic plan for each
program area (Bioinformatics Center should co-ordinate this.)
Strategic Planning
Engaging Our Faculty
Some of the best minds in the country
are already here
The most cost-effective and risk-free
way of increasing human resources at
the interface of computation and
biology is to involve these faculty
Engaging Our Faculty
Interdisciplinary Seminars
(Bioinformatics Center already does this.)
Ambassador Seminars
(Bioinformatics Center could facilitate this.)
Engaging Our Faculty
Interdisciplinary Workshops
Tutorial + Scientific Papers (Bioinformatics Center should organize these.)
Engaging Our Faculty
Provide Incentives
Internal Cross-Disciplinary Leaves
with teaching replacement
•to start up research
•to develop courses
(Bioinformatics Center should have funds for this.)
Engaging Our Faculty
Extensions to Tenure Clock
Young faculty are our most
valuable resource, but they pay
the highest price for retooling.(Bioinformatics Center should advocate for this.)
Engaging Our Faculty
Competitive Start-up Grants

give faculty a boost before they
apply for external funds (Bioinformatics Center should have funds for this.)
Engaging Our Faculty
Assistance in Grant Preparation
•a technical person who can help
both with budgets and with some of
the technical details (Bioinformatics Center should employ this person.)
Engaging Our Faculty
Shared office space
•Faculty in the Bioinformatics
Center need a place to sit together, to
rub shoulders in the coffee room, and
meet each other in the hallways •Space for visitors
Engaging Our Faculty
Recognition of Excellent Research

create an annual award to recognize
work at the interface (Bioinformatics Center should sponsor for this.)
Hire and Support New Faculty
Set priorities for hiring
•as part of the strategic plan for each
program area (Bioinformatics Center should co-ordinate this.)
Hire and Support New Faculty
Hiring incentives:
•priorities should be set jointly by the
home department and the
Bioinformatics Center steering
Hire and Support New Faculty
Input into the Hiring Process
•Cross-disciplinary members are
added to each search committee •Candidates are interviewed by
faculty in the Bioinformatics Center
Hire and Support New Faculty
•New faculty hired by this process
should be cross-appointed to the
Bioinformatics Center •Cross-appointments to other
departments may be desirable for
senior hires
Hire and Support New Faculty
Promotion and Tenure
•input into the final position description.
•annual performance reviews of junior
faculty •representation in the tenure process
•for senior hires, a review after the first
Hire and Support New Faculty
•cross-disciplinary faculty may need
facilities not usually provided by the home
department •the Bioinformatics Center should assist
the departments in finding facilities or
house these facilities
Train Students

non-core “literacy”courses
•core accelerated courses
•biology for computational
scientists•quantitative science for biologists
•core cross-disciplinary courses
Train Students
Training Grants

•outreach to extension and/or K-12
Train Students
Distributed Learning

reach a diverse audience
•share resources with other research
institutions•outreach to extension, continuing
Consulting in Computational
Consulting Unit for
•data management
•mathematical modeling
Disseminating Results
The Bioinformatics Center should
•technical report repository
•leader in publishing e-journals
Partnering with Industry and
This is a Land Grant University
We should support this mission by:•working with Ag Extension, farm
associations, etc•working with industry
•extending this work to the national
and global arenas
•strategic planning
•engaging faculty
•hiring and supporting new faculty
•training students
•providing quantitative support
•disseminating results
•partnering with agriculture and
The Roles of the Bioinformatics