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Sep - Fiona Brinkman

Speaker: Fiona Brinkman

Talk Title: Microbes (and why all bioinformaticists should care about them)

Event Details


Thursday, September 17, 2015. 6:00pm

Affiliation: Professor, Dept. of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, Simon Fraser University

Web-site: Fiona Brinkman

Twitter: @fionabrinkman


Fiona Brinkman is a Professor in Bioinformatics and Genomics the Department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry at Simon Fraser University. Her expertise in microbial bioinformatics has led her to develop award-winning computational tools for analysis of human and microbe responses to infection and allergy. She currently coordinates a genome database project involving hundreds of researchers from 13 countries, and she is leading/co-leading multiple research projects improving microbial bioinformatics analyses with other researchers, such as from the BC Centre for Disease Control, National Microbiology Laboratory (PHAC), and other institutions in the U.S., Portugal, and UK. She is on several committees and Boards, including the Board of Directors for Genome Canada, the Scientific Advisory Board of the EBI’s European Nucleotide Archive, and the CIHR/GC Bioinformatics and Computational Biology National Strategy Committee. She cares strongly about bioinformatics training and is SFU co-Director of the UBC/SFU Bioinformatics Graduate Program. She has been a Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research Senior Scholar who has received a number of awards, including the Canadian Society of Microbiologists Fisher Award, Canada’s Top 100 Women from the Women’s Executive Network, a TR100 award from MIT for being one of the “top 100 of the world’s young innovators in science and technology”, and most recently was recognized by Thomson Reuters as a Highly Cited Researcher – in the “top 1% of highly cited researchers in her field”.


As sequencing technology now allows us to rapidly sequence many microbial genomes daily, microbial bioinformatics is facing multiple challenges in large scale data integration, data analysis and visualization – challenges that other organismal/human genomics/bioinformatics areas will reach shortly. There is also rapidly growing understanding of the diverse role of microbes in humans and wider ecosystems – more than previously appreciated even a year ago – plus growing appreciation of microbial applications in medicine, agri-foods, environmental, and industrial fields. I will review my microbial bioinformatics research in the context of these diverse microbial applications, and in the context of current challenges more generally in bioinformatics. I will aim to show why all bioinformaticists should care about following microbial bioinformatics research. Also why now is a critical time for bioinformaticists to come together to promote open data, data standards, and open software development, to ensure we can effectively, and collectively, meet current challenges and capitalize on the wealth of data to come.

Please note:

Trainees are invited to meet with the VanBUG speaker for open discussion of both science and career paths. This takes place 4:30-5:30pm in either the Boardroom or Lunchroom on the ground floor of the BCCRC

Recommended Readings

Introductory Speaker: Saeed Saberi (Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Dr. Martin Hirst’s Lab, Michael Smith Laboratories, UBC)

Title: “Chromatin landscape alteration in the rhabdoid tumour”

Webcast Link:

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