Curriculum in Bioinformatics & Computational Biology - UNC Chapel Hill


UNC Old Well Bioinformatics and computational biology are related fields that focus on the development or application of quantitative tools to address modern biological problems. The Curriculum in Bioinformatics & Computational Biology, started in 2002,  trains students to become sophisticated, interdisciplinary researchers using state-of-the-art computational methods to advance biological discovery.  The BCB Curriculum currently supports a standalone PhD granting program, and also a certificate of specialization for students working toward their PhDs in other affiliated departments at UNC-Chapel Hill.

The BCB Curriculum is supported and administered by the Carolina Center for Genome Sciences.  The Curriculum also receives financial support from the College of Arts & Sciences, the School of Medicine, and the National Institutes of Health. 


This Week's Seminars:

Weekly Colloquium - Mondays @ 4:40 pm in 2025 Bondurant Hall
Colloquia are finished for the spring semester

Research In Progress Seminar - Tuesdays @ 4pm in 2004 Marsico Hall
Seminars are finshed for the spring semester

Special Seminar April 30 with Peter Devreotes, Johns Hopkins University

Program in Molecular and Cellular Biophysics and Bioinformatics and Computational Biology Seminar -
April 30 @ 2:00 pm in 1131 Bioinformatics -
Peter Devreotes, Department of Cell BIology, Johns Hopkins University,
"The cell's compass: How cells move and know where to move."

Special Event: 2015 Innovations in Bioinformatics and Computational Biology

October 27 @ 1:00-5:00 pm - Featuring 6 speakers: Arthur Lander - UC Irvine, Tobias Meyer - Stanford, Michael Yaffe - MIT, Bryan Roth - UNC, and Zefeng Wang - UNC.


In The News:

Patrick McCarter (graduate student, Elston and Dohlman Labs) was highlighted in UNC School of Medicine's Vital Signs Student Profiles April 23. “We just published a paper in January in Science Signaling, in which we experimentally showed that a protein has very interesting dynamics and then we were able to propose a mathematical model that could explain the behavior. We found that a key protein, called Hog1, which drives the stress-response of the cell, actually increases its own activity. It becomes activated by stress and then once activated it induces more activation of itself. In this case, it upregulates its own activity and then later in time, it down regulates its own activity. So you have this really dynamic profile for Hog1 in yeast. This is the first time that any lab has shown that it has a positive effect on itself." (except from the article--read the full article to find out more about Patrick and why he chose UNC's Bioinformatics and Computational Biology program.)


John Mellnik (graduate student, Forest Lab) received a 2015 UNC Graduate Education Advancement Board (GEAB) Impact Award at an April 9 ceremony honoring the recipients. John received the award for his research to create more effective inhalers for patients with asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and diabetes. John performed mathematical modeling and simulation techniques to quantify the percent of inhaled medication that will pass through an individual patient's lung mucus over time, as well as the percentage of drug that is cleared from the lung. John is currently is working on applying these tools to data from clinical trials to expore how patient characteristics such as age, body mass index and smoking history affect this dynamic. John's work represents a significant advance toward rigorous protocols for personalized inhaled medications, with the potential for safer and more effective standards of treatment.

Meredith Corley (graduate student, Laederach Lab) is first author on a paper published last week in Nucleic Acids Research that was titled: “Detecting riboSNitches with RNA folding algorithms: a genome-wide benchmark”. In the paper, Meredith and collaborators evaluate 11 different RNA folding algorithms’ riboSNitch prediction performance from a recently published human genome-wide parallel analysis of RNA structure (PARS) study. This study establishes best practices for predicting how SNVs (Single Nucleotide Variants) will affect transcriptome structure and builds on a growing body of evidence suggesting RNA structure is a key component of cellular regulation. See student pubs page for complete citation.

Sara Selitsky (graduate student, Sethupathy & Lemon Labs) has recently first-authored a paper published in Scientific Reports (Nature's open access journal), titled Small tRNA-derived RNAs are increased and more abundant than microRNAs in chronic hepatitis B and C. In this study, Selitsky et al. identify for the first time in human tissue the presence of a class of small RNAs derived from tRNAs.  They find that tRNA-derived RNAs are even more abundant than microRNAs in the liver of patients chronically infected with hepatitis B or C, and that they are dysregulated in hepatocellular carcinoma. These findings open a new field of study that may suggest new approaches for diagnosis and treatment of chronic liver diseases. Jeanette Baran-Gale, also a BCB student (Sethupathy & Purvis Labs), is a contributing author on the paper. See student pubs page for complete citation.



Tim Elston, PhD

Tim Elston, PhD
Curriculum Director
4092 Genetic Medicine Bldg.
CB# 7365
Chapel Hill NC 27599

Will Valdar, PhD

Will Valdar, PhD
Curriculum Deputy Director
Student Progression Director
5113 Genetic Medicine Bldg.
CB# 7264
Chapel Hill, NC 27599

John Cornett

John Cornett
Curriculum Administrator
5009 Genetic Medicine Bldg. 
CB# 7264
Chapel Hill NC 27599


UNC campus photo by Betsy Clarke