Advancing Biology by Bridging Experimental and Computational Sciences

Professor John Rinn has joined the faculty of the University of Colorado in Boulder, to better understand how RNA genes can interact and influence protein gene function. This goal requires high-throughput screening of RNA molecules for those with specific biological activity and creative computational solutions towards understanding the molecular grammar underlying how RNA “speaks” to the cell. Specifically, this requires new training platforms and courses in what is now termed Bioinformatics that seamless blends experimental and computational logic.

Bioinformatics is a new field that blends elements of biology, statistics, computer science, and genetic engineering. It developed as a solution to a major problem: the sheer abundance of data that cannot be analyzed with mechanical devices. Bioinformatics detects data patterns that shed new light on biological processes. With new an emerging applications of machine learning computational methods for deeper insights into big data.

The discipline has streamlined the invention of new treatments for cancer and determined genetic causes for many diseases. Its techniques are well-suited to precision medicine – the customization of medicine to individual circumstances. It also plays a key role in diagnosing and preventing illnesses such as the flu, heart disease, and diabetes.

This growing field has many applications for pharmaceutical companies, software developers and biotechnology. Further evidence of its influence is the fact that more than 45 American colleges and universities now offer degrees in bioinformatics.

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The Interdisciplinary Quantitative Biology PhD Program at UC Boulder

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Former Harvard University professor John Rinn is a Leslie Orgel professor of RNA science at the University of Colorado (UC), Boulder. More specifically, John Rinn is a faculty member of the Interdisciplinary Quantitative (IQ) Biology PhD program offered through the institution’s BioFrontiers Institute.

The IQ Biology PhD Certificate at UC Boulder is designed to teach engineering, life sciences, applied mathematics, and computer science students the interdisciplinary quantitative skills they need to enable effective collaboration in academia and industry. Students also gain the competencies necessary for well-rounded research and gain in-depth knowledge of fields outside their core competencies.

During their coursework, students participate in several diverse learning programs. For example, they rotate through three different labs where they learn two or more disciplines in their first year. They also complete coursework to address any knowledge gaps in interdisciplinary topics like quantitative optical imaging. Finally, they attend idea exchanges and work on team projects, as well as boot camps offering short interdisciplinary courses on a variety of topics.

Focused on professional development, IQ Biology also offers internship opportunities in top biotechnology companies, national labs, and, business organizations while promoting participation in outreach activities.

The Editorial and Publishing Standards at Genome Biology

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As a HHMI early career scientist, John Rinn dedicates his research to RNA biology. Specifically, focusing on how long noncoding RNA (lncRNA) genes can play important biological roles as RNA molecules (rather than the more commonly studied protein based genes). John Rinn teaches courses at the University of Colorado Boulder as the Leslie Orgel Professor of RNA Science. Outside his basic research, John Rinn also serves on the editorial board of Genome Biology, a leading peer-reviewed, open-access scientific journal.

Genome Biology is committed to publishing exceptional research in all areas of biomedicine and biology studied through a post-genomic and genomic lens. For its work, Thomson Reuters listed Genome Biology the fourth-ranked journal in terms of impact in the Genetics and Heredity category. Here are several editorial and publishing practices at Genome Biology that have contributed to its status within the industry.

1. The journal has more than 46,000 followers on its Twitter account and is dedicated to promoting its content both through its social media presence, well-designed homepage, and press releases.

2. Committed to editorial transparency, Genome Biology publishes a peer reviewer report with every article it publishes. (This practice pertains to submissions starting on January 1, 2019.)

3. To better serve authors, reviewers, and readers, the journal maintains high standards of hospitality throughout the publishing process, including proactive communication on the progress of a manuscript.