This cluster leverages UCF’s strengths in medicine, evolution and ecology, and computer science by providing the technical expertise and collaborative opportunities necessary to ask and answer the most important questions of today’s life science. Examples include: understanding the genetic basis and evolution of diseases, identifying emerging pathogens, determining genomic hallmarks of species extinctions, and developing algorithms and statistical models to improve the analysis of these fantastical amounts of data.
The Genomics and Bioinformatics cluster is focused on biodiversity as the epitome of a multidisciplinary field as it lies at the interface of biology, computer science, engineering, mathematics, medicine and statistics. Biodiversity conjures images of diverse plants and animals in lush tropical jungles, but in reality a majority of earth’s diversity comes from vast ecosystems of microbes colonizing soils, oceans and larger host organisms. This ecosystem includes your very own unique microbiome – or all of the bacteria, viruses and eukaryotes that live in your body as part of your cellular community. Our genomes, evolutionary histories and health are intimately linked with our microbial communities, as are those of all other plants and animals. Thus, understanding genomics in a meaningful way, whether to explain the evolution of species in different regions of the world, human cancers and their causes, or the consequence of a disrupted microbiome causing illness, requires consideration of all the genetic units that are continually changing and interacting.
UCF Colleges Involved in Genomics and Bioinformatics
Learn More About Genomics and Bioinformatics:
- Integrate genomics and bioinformatics into UCF’s faculty research programs
- Provide Genomics and Bioinformatics infrastructure and knowledge for current and future faculty
- Integrate genomics and bioinformatics into curricula at the undergraduate, graduate and medical school levels
- The organic emergence of specialized research clusters utilizing Genomics and Bioinformatics
- Develop new undergraduate and graduate interdisciplinary degree programs
More details about the cluster can be found in the Genomics and Bioinformatics Cluster Proposal.
Why Join the Genomics and Bioinformatics Cluster?
Prominence and Partnerships
By focusing this cluster on biodiversity, we will be able to integrate many life science research programs at UCF, which will allow UCF to amplify its national and international presence. For example, Drs. Graham Worthy and Eric Hoffman of UCF Biological Sciences are conducting a project in collaboration with Disney’s Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World, where they are using Genomics and Bioinformatics to investigate food sources in the giraffe enclosures within the park, which the giraffe are eating and causing them to become sick.
Working with big data requires advanced interdisciplinary skills, and all STEM fields are now big data dependent. Physicians need to understand genomics because personalized genomic medicine is the future of health care, bioinformaticians need to understand biology to make them competitive for pharmaceutical and biotech employment, and molecular biologists need to understand bioinformatics in order to interpret their data. Incorporating genomics and bioinformatics training into College of Sciences, College of Medicine, and College of Engineering and Computer Science curricula at every stage (from classroom to bench to computational pipeline) will prepare our students as leaders in careers that span these disciplines.
Life Sciences Benefits
The Genomics & Bioinformatics cluster will have a direct impact on all life science research at UCF because it will increase the possibilities for new discoveries, enable advanced training for our next generation of scientists and foster powerful external collaborations that will strengthen our ties with the global community. Many life scientists at UCF will be able to incorporate new genomics and bioinformatics technologies into their programs, which will improve research impact and make them more competitive in seeking financial support. Also, by enhancing our partnerships with local corporations, other universities and governmental agencies, we will be better positioned to publicize our exceedingly strong life sciences programs. Overall, this cluster will improve student recruitment, attract excellent new faculty, improve financial support and heighten UCF’s research impact.
We’re Looking for the Best.
Genomics and Bioinformatics Cluster Faculty
The following faculty are involved in developing and guiding the cluster and its efforts.
- Anna Forsman, Genomics Laboratory Research Coordinator
- Michelle Gaither, Assistant Professor
- Eric Hoffman, Associate Professor
- Anna Savage, Assistant Professor
- Laurence Von Kalm, Associate Professor and Associate Chair
- Ken Fedorka, Associate Professor and Graduate Coordinator
The Faculty Cluster Initiative is hiring in nine interdisciplinary areas to advance UCF’s areas of excellence and global impact. We’re looking for leaders to help shape collaborative research and teaching across the university.