First Annual Bioinformatics Minor End-of-Year Celebration

On Wednesday, June 7, faculty, staff, and undergraduates began a new tradition for the UCLA Bioinformatics Minor Program. Prof. Eleazar Eskin, chair of the Minor Program, hosted the first annual Bioinformatics Minor End-of-Year Celebration to recognize and celebrate undergraduates who completed the requirements for the Minor.

This year’s celebration took place in the Hacienda Room at the Faculty Center. In attendance were faculty and staff from the Schools of Medicine, Engineering, and Life Sciences, and from the Office of Academic and Student Affairs. The reception kicked off with a poster session presenting research completed during the Minor program. As a founding faculty member of the Minor, Prof. Eskin shared a few remarks on the small-scale origins—and upward-scaling trajectory—of the Minor Program. Since 2012, the Minor has succeeded at providing non-computational students with a solid foundation in, and familiarity with, active research problems at the interface of computer science, biology, and mathematics.

Greg Darnell, a UCLA alumnus who completed the Bioinformatics Minor in 2013 and is now a PhD student in Bioinformatics at Princeton, delivered a keynote speech. Mr. Darnell emphasized the extent to which the field of Bioinformatics has changed since he began coursework and research as an undergraduate at UCLA in the early 2010s. Recent “big data” explosions in the Biosciences have created exciting challenges and opportunities for emerging scholars—such as the graduates honored at this reception.

Twenty students were awarded certificates of recognition for their intellectual curiosity, creativity and dedication to interdisciplinary studies. These students join a unique and exemplary group of Bioinformatics Minor graduates who have made their mark in one of UCLA’s most challenging and unique academic programs, spanning Engineering, Biology, and Medicine.

In addition, Prof. Eskin presented three cash research awards to students, Brandon Jew, Ruth Johnson, and Michael Thompson, who demonstrated exceptional talent in their Bioinformatics research projects. Faculty and staff associated with the UCLA Bioinformatics Minor Program are excited to continue this new tradition, including the awarding of certificates and research awards, in future Spring quarters.

Congratulations to the 2016-17 graduates and graduating seniors in the Bioinformatics Minor! In addition to this year’s graduates, a certificate of recognition was also presented to past graduates Leah Briscoe (‘16), Alec Chiu (’16), and Greg Darnell (‘13). Go Bruins!

2016-17 Bioinformatics Minor Graduates:
Ariane Ayer
Andrea Castro
Elizabeth Chin
Qing Dai
Crystal Han
Brandon Jew
Ruth Johnson
Maegan Lu
Anastasia Lukianchikov
Cristian Medina
Douglas Meyer
Sepideh Parhami
Xingyi Shi
Christian Garrison St Pierre
Michael Thompson
Neerja Vashist
Linqing Wei
Anthony Bohr Zhu

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Thesis Defense: Dr. Robert Brown

Robert Brown successfully defended his thesis, “Methods and Models for the Analysis of Human Genetic Data,” on Wednesday, May 24, 2017 in Boelter 4760. His talk, which is posted on our YouTube channel ZarlabUCLA, discusses methods to better assess how human history affects genetics and how genetics affect human phenotypes such as height, eye color, and disease risk. Dr. Brown’s thesis presents five novel methods that build upon each other to analyze today’s large-scale human genetic data.

Dr. Robert Brown with his thesis committee. (L-R) Kirk Lohmueller, Janet Sinsheimer, Eleazar Eskin, Robert Brown, Bogdan Pasaniuc (committee chair), and Rita Cantor.

More details about Rob’s research are available in the following papers:

Robert Brown Gleb Kichaev, Nicholas Mancuso James Boocock ; Pasaniuc, Bogdan

Enhanced methods to detect haplotypic effects on gene expression Journal Article

In: Bioinformatics, pp. btx142, 2017.

Links | BibTeX

Robert Brown Hane Lee, Ascia Eskin Gleb Kichaev Kirk Lohmueller Bruno Reversade Stanley Nelson E F; Pasaniuc, Bogdan

Leveraging ancestry to improve causal variant identification in exome sequencing for monogenic disorders Journal Article

In: European Journal of Human Genetics, 24 (1), pp. 113-119, 2016.


Brown, Robert; Lee, Hane; Eskin, Ascia; Kichaev, Gleb; Lohmueller, Kirk E; Reversade, Bruno; Nelson, Stanley F; Pasaniuc, Bogdan

Leveraging ancestry to improve causal variant identification in exome sequencing for monogenic disorders. Journal Article

In: Eur J Hum Genet, 24 (1), pp. 113-9, 2015, ISSN: 1476-5438.

Abstract | Links | BibTeX

Brown, Robert; Pasaniuc, Bogdan

Enhanced methods for local ancestry assignment in sequenced admixed individuals Journal Article

In: PLoS Computational Biology, 10 (4), pp. e1003555, 2014.


YouTube: Robert Brown Thesis Defense