Introducing the Bioinformatics Core
The newly formed Bioinformatics Core at Michigan State University supports research by analyzing complex omics samples, integrating data from multiple methodologies, and providing a meaningful biological context for the results. Researchers can learn more about the Bioinformatics Core and request a consultation by visiting bioinformatics.msu.edu.
The Bioinformatics Core is a collaboration between several units at MSU. Four consultants have consolidated their bioinformatics expertise to help the MSU research community. Dr. Stephanie Hickey is a bioinformatics consultant through the Research Technology Support Facility (RTSF), Dr. Guoli Zhou is a bioinformatics consultant and research assistant professor through the Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute (CTSI), and Dr. Nanye Long and Dr. Nicholas Panchy are bioinformatics consultants and research consultants at the Institute for Cyber-Enabled Research (ICER).
“My reason for working with the Bioinformatics Core is to help advance research,” said Dr. Panchy. “This means more than just analysis. This means helping people understand their data, helping them get trained, and enabling collaboration by using common pipelines, common languages, and common resources that anyone at the university can take advantage of.”
The Bioinformatics Consultants are involved at all stages of the investigative process, including experimental design, constructing and maintaining reproducible workflows, writing and reviewing manuscripts, offering letters of support for grants, and providing training for researchers at all stages of their careers.
“You can do the right experiment – the experiment that you think will best answer your question – even if that's a large omics experiment that you might not have the computational resources to analyze on your own,” said Dr. Hickey. “We don't want investigators at MSU to feel that they can't do these critical experiments because they don't have the computational experience. So, we are here to help.”
Along with applying the proper analysis to data, the Bioinformatics Core also ensures investigators can interpret the results and understand what was done and why it was done. By collaborating with a bioinformatician, investigators can expect to receive high-quality, reliable data generated using methods that stand up to peer review.
Researchers interested in the services of the Bioinformatics Core can get started by visiting the website to learn about policies, services, grant support, FAQs, and more information about each consultant’s experience and expertise. The process for working with a bioinformatics consultant is broken down into three intuitive steps: the initial consultation, analysis, and follow-up meeting.
“It's really exciting for me to be able to help researchers across campus in this way,” said Dr. Hickey. “When I was an undergrad working in a genomic sequencing lab, my mentor was a computational biologist, and I just thought what he did was magic. I hope to be able to bring that ease of research to other researchers.”