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Speaker

Terry Gaasterland
Terry Gaasterland, an associate professor, joined The Rockefeller University in September 1998 to establish the Laboratory of Computational Genomics. A computer scientist with a long-standing interest in medical and biological questions, Dr. Gaasterland designs bioinformatics tools for interpreting the flood of data being generated by the Human Genome Project and other sequencing efforts. Because she focuses intensively on microbial genomes, her work also has important implications for the understanding and control of infectious diseases.

Dr. Gaasterland was a postdoctoral fellow in Computer Science at the Department of Energy when the first microbial genomes were funded for sequencing by the DOE. Recognizing that genome interpretation would be an intensive computational task that involves AI, databases and distributed computing -- her area of expertise in computer science -- Dr. Gaasterland created a microbial genome annotation system called MAGPIE for Multipurpose Automated Genome Project Investigation Environment. A widely available computational tool, MAGPIE and its newer eukaryotic adaptation, EGRET, allow biomedical researchers to gain a deeper understanding of a particular genome sequence by rapidly comparing it to what is known about the available genome sequences of other organisms. This comparative approach to genomics links human cellular processes to those in model organisms at the molecular level. Comparing not only genes and proteins but their regulatory patterns and usage patterns helps to identify drug targets for diseases, improves understanding of genes associated with human disease, and gives deeper insight into the evolution of biochemical pathways.

Dr. Gaasterland earned a B.S. in computer science and Russian from Duke University in 1984. She continued her studies in computer science at the University of Maryland, where she received an M.S. in 1988 and a Ph.D. in 1992. From 1992 to 1998, she was a member of the mathematics and computer science division at Argonne National Laboratory, first as an Enrico Fermi Scholar, and then as an assistant scientist. From 1995 to 1998, she also held an appointment as an assistant professor at the University of Chicago.

A founding officer of the International Society for Computational Biology, Dr. Gaasterland was named a Sinsheimer Scholar in 1999. In October 2000, she received a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers -- the United States government's most prestigious honor for young investigators.

  Terry Gaasterland


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