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Feb - Adam Phillippy

Speaker: Adam Phillippy

Talk Title: “How bioinformatics helped crack the Amerithrax case”

Event Details


Thursday, February 11, 2016 6:00pm

Affiliation: Head, Genome Informatics Section, Computational and Statistical Genomics Branch, National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI)

Web-site: Adam Phillippy

Twitter: @aphillippy


In the fall of 2001, at least five letters laced with deadly anthrax spores were mailed across the United States. Five died, many others were sickened, and a nation already reeling from 9-11 was further terrified. The resulting investigation was the most complex and expensive in U.S. history. I will retell the story of how The Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR) sequenced multiple whole genomes of Bacillus anthracis to determine the source of these attacks–an incredible feat at the time. This work pioneered the field of microbial forensics and foretold the future of outbreak genomics, for which this type of analysis is now routine.


Dr. Adam Phillippy leads the Genome Informatics Section at the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) in Bethesda, Maryland. His group is currently developing efficient methods for the analysis of genomes and metagenomes using single-molecule sequencing with diagnostic applications to cancer and infectious disease. Software from his group is available at He received his PhD in Computer Science from the University of Maryland under the advising of Steven Salzberg, and has previously worked at the National Biodefense Analysis and Countermeasures Center (NBACC) and The Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR).

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

  1. Phillippy, A. M., Schatz, M. C., & Pop, M. (2008). Genome assembly forensics: finding the elusive mis-assembly. Genome Biol, 9(3), R55.
  2. Rasko, D. A., Worsham, P. L., Abshire, T. G., Stanley, S. T., Bannan, J. D., Wilson, M. R., … & Phillippy, A. M. (2011). Bacillus anthracis comparative genome analysis in support of the Amerithrax investigation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 108(12), 5027-5032.

Introductory Speaker: Julie Chen (PhD Student, Dr. Wasserman’s Lab, CMMT/CFRI)

Title: TBA

Webcast Link:

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