RNA Bioscience Initiative Informatic Fellows Program

Jay Hesselberth
April 12, 2019

Many facets of modern biological research involve the analysis of RNA to understand how cells control gene expression. These experiments involve powerful new sequencing methods that produce large data sets and require sophisticated bioinformatic analysis. In the Spring of 2016, faculty at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus were awarded $20 million to start the RNA Bioscience Initiative. To alleviate the bottleneck in analysis of these data sets, the RBI started the Informatic Fellows program and recruited postdoctoral fellows to develop and apply bioinformatic approaches and to educate other trainees on the use of these methods in their own research.

A unique feature of the program is that Fellows are card-carrying RNA biologists who have significant training at the lab bench. So while they no longer do “wet” experiments themselves, this background gives them a unique perspective on RNA-related research and has been instrumental in helping collaborators ask and answer fundamental questions in RNA biology.

It’s an exciting time to be an RNA biologist capable of analyzing large sequencing data sets. We discover something new every day in our collaborators’ data sets and are capitalizing on our unique capabilities to push the limits of RNA sequencing technologies.

Goals and activities

The goal of the Informatic Fellows program is train the next generation of bioinformatic analysts who span the disciplines required for completing RNA sequencing experiments including design, execution, and analysis.

The Fellows divide their time between bioinformatic collaborations with other groups on campus, internal projects involving software and method development, and teaching.

Their training involves several important areas of bioinformatic collaboration: