Dr. Bai’s research interests lie in development and refinement of bioinformatics algorithms/software and databases on next-generation sequencing (NGS data), development of statistical model for solving biological problems, bioinformatics analysis of clinical data, as well as other topics including, but not limited to, uncovering disease genes and variants using informatics approaches, computational analysis of cis-regulation and comparative motif finding, large-scale genome annotation, comparative “omics”, and evolutionary genomics.
My research is focused on developing efficient and effective statistical and computational methods for genetic and genomic studies. These studies often involve large-scale and high-dimensional data; examples include genome-wide association studies, epigenome-wide association studies, and various functional genomic sequencing studies such as bulk and single cell RNAseq, bisulfite sequencing, ChIPseq, ATACseq etc. Our method development is often application oriented and specifically targeted for practical applications of these large-scale genetic and genomic studies, thus is not restricted in a particular methodology area. Our previous and current methods include, but are not limited to, Bayesian methods, mixed effects models, factor analysis models, sparse regression models, deep learning algorithms, clustering algorithms, integrative methods, spatial statistics, and efficient computational algorithms. By developing novel analytic methods, I seek to extract important information from these data and to advance our understanding of the genetic basis of phenotypic variation for various human diseases and disease related quantitative traits.
The Schloss lab is broadly interested in beneficial and pathogenic host-microbiome interactions with the goal of improving our understanding of how the microbiome can be used to reach translational outcomes in the prevention, detection, and treatment of colorectal cancer, Crohn’s disease, and Clostridium difficile infection. To address these questions, we test traditional ecological theory in the microbial context using a systems biology approach. Specifically, the laboratory specializes in using studies involving human subjects and animal models to understand how biological diversity affects community function using a variety of culture-independent genomics techniques including sequencing 16S rRNA gene fragments, metagenomics, and metatranscriptomics. In addition, they use metabolomics to understand the functional role of the gut microbiota in states of health and disease. To support these efforts, they develop and apply bioinformatic tools to facilitate their analysis. Most notable is the development of the mothur software package (https://www.mothur.org), which is one of the most widely used tools for analyzing microbiome data and has been cited more than 7,300 times since it was initially published in 2009. The Schloss lab deftly merges the ability to collect data to answer important biological questions using cutting edge wet-lab techniques and computational tools to synthesize these data to answer their biological questions.
Given the explosion in microbiome research over the past 15 years, the Schloss lab has also stood at the center of a major effort to train interdisciplinary scientists in applying computational tools to study complex biological systems. These efforts have centered around developing reproducible research skills and applying modern data visualization techniques. An outgrowth of these efforts at the University of Michigan has been the institutionalization of The Carpentries organization on campus (https://carpentries.org), which specializes in peer-to-peer instruction of programming tools and techniques to foster better reproducibility and build a community of practitioners.
Samuel K Handelman, Ph.D., is Research Assistant Professor in the department of Internal Medicine, Gastroenterology, of Michigan Medicine at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Prof. Handelman is focused on multi-omics approaches to drive precision/personalized-therapy and to predict population-level differences in the effectiveness of interventions. He tends to favor regression-style and hierarchical-clustering approaches, partially because he has a background in both statistics and in cladistics. His scientific monomania is for compensatory mechanisms and trade-offs in evolution, but he has a principled reason to focus on translational medicine: real understanding of these mechanisms goes all the way into the clinic. Anything less that clinical translation indicates that we don’t understand what drove the genetics of human populations.
Jinseok Kim, Ph.D., is Research Assistant Professor in the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Prof. Kim works on resolving named entity ambiguity in large-scale scholarly data (publication, patent, and funding records) in digital libraries. Especially, his current research is focused on developing methods for disambiguating author and affiliation names at a digital library scale using various supervised machine learning approaches trained on automatically labeled data . Disambiguated data from multiple sources will be integrated to be analyzed for insights into research production, scientific collaboration, funding evaluation, and research policy at a national level.
Michael Cafarella, PhD, is Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, College of Engineering and Faculty Associate, Survey Research Center, Institute for Social Research, at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
Prof. Cafarella’s research focuses on data management problems that arise from extreme diversity in large data collections. Big data is not just big in terms of bytes, but also type (e.g., a single hard disk likely contains relations, text, images, and spreadsheets) and structure (e.g., a large corpus of relational databases may have millions of unique schemas). As a result, certain long-held assumptions — e.g., that the database schema is always known before writing a query — are no longer useful guides for building data management systems. As a result, my work focuses heavily on information extraction and data mining methods that can either improve the quality of existing information or work in spite of lower-quality information.