I am a computational biologist (Early Stage Investigator) that develops systematic approaches to investigate molecular drivers of human disease with diverse training. In college, I completed a High Honors 3-year molecular genetics research dissertation with Dr. Scott Holmes. In my Ph.D., I first conducted statistical genetics research of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) in Dr. Alison Goate’s lab before her relocation. By deploying a new GWAS approach and integration with eQTL, biomarker, and epigenomics data, I linked PU.1 and its regulatory microglial gene network to AD. For the majority of my Ph.D., I conducted computational omics research of cancer in Dr. Li Ding’s lab, where I developed genomics tools and led the discovery of predisposing germline variants in 10,389 adult cancers. I have also integrated genomics with mass spectrometry proteomics data, enabling the first proteogenomics investigation of breast cancer xenografts to identify actionable proteins. In a brief post-doc period, I continue to work on novel approaches to identify protein drivers from the up-rising proteomics cohort data routinely surveying >10K proteins and 30K phosphosites. As an early career investigator, I have sought to accumulate substantial experience leading research of consortium projects, helping draft grants, and mentoring students.
I have proven expertise, built trust, and developed into the lead for large consortia projects including that for IGAP (AD GWAS), TCGA PanCanAtlas Germline group (Cancer Genomics), and CPTAC (Cancer Proteomics). While in the Ding lab, I helped conceive and write substantial portions of research proposals, including 4 funded NIH U center grants; I have also directly helped mentored rotation/undergraduate students and transfer the learning from this experience into leading my current group consisting of 2 postdoc fellows, 1 hem/onc fellows, and 8 medical students. Since starting my independent group, I have continued developing computational tools to integrate multi-omics data of human disease, enabling us to better diagnosis, trace molecular aberrations, and unveil treatment opportunities for each individual. I have continued my research momentum by starting a program that focuses on the multi-omics integration of Alzheimer’s disease and cancer. The Department of Genetics and Genomic Sciences has committed substantial resource to ensure my success as an independent investigator. The newly launched $200 million institutional precision medicine effort is generating multi-omics data on large patient cohorts of multiple disease types as well as functional models to test omic-analysis-derived treatment hypotheses, which will strongly synergize with the aims of the proposed research project.