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Keynote Lecture: Prof. Mary Yang

Mary Yang

 Developing Synergistic Intelligent Computing and Big Data Analytics Approaches to Facilitate Precision Medicine Research

Prof. Mary Yang

Director of MidSouth Bioinformatics Center and Director of Joint Bioinformatics Ph.D. Program,
University of Arkansas Little Rock George Washington Donaghey College of Engineering
& Information Technology and University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences

Date and Time: July 27, 2016 



Advances of new technologies have generated massive big data that can facilitate the emerging precision medicine research. This has created tremendous demands for the development of novel intelligent computing approaches to handle the massive amount of genomic big data effectively and timely. In particular, cancer is a disease that is not only complex, in that many genetic variations contribute to malignant transformation, but also wildly heterogeneous, in that genetic mechanisms can vary significantly between patients. Early diagnosis and effective treatment of cancer have been always remained challenging. Synergistic integration of multidimensional genomic big data at systems level can shed new light on molecular mechanisms at cellular level such as disease initiation and progression, and also lead to new pathway-based biomarker and drug target identifications. The Systems Genomics Laboratory along with the MidSouth Bioinformatics Center and Joint Bioinformatics Program of University of Arkansas Little Rock College of Engineering & Information Technology and University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences aims to leverage the research by combining different genomic information including genetic mapping, long non-coding RNA (lncRNA) studies, differential expression of genes (DEG), protein-protein and protein–nucleotide interactions to construct gene networks for integrative genome-phoneme studies at higher systems level. To this end, synergistic integration of multi-layer genomic big data can further advance biomedical research and contribute to precision medicine research.

 In this keynote lecture, I will present synergistic intelligent computing, statistical and biochemical approaches to effectively integrate gene expression profiles with protein interactions in constructing gene networks that can be used for identification of biomarkers and disease associated pathways. By further combing with genotype information, we have discovered important genomic alterations in cancer development. Furthermore, our synergistic approaches also incorporate the study of lncRNAs and have identified differentially expressed lncRNAs in cancer. We found that many over-regulated lncRNAs were bidirectionally oriented with neighboring protein-coding genes. These protein-coding genes are enriched in biological processes implicated in cancer. In addition, we have developed an online tool called IDEAS to Identify Differential Expression of genes for Applications in genome-wide Studies. We have utilized this tool to facilitate synergistic knowledge discovery from multi-layer genomic big data and made a number of discoveries. Our integrative systems genomics approaches enable comprehensive identification of biomarkers, drug targets and disturbed pathways to facilitate precision medicine research.


Dr. Mary Yang is the Director of MidSouth Bioinformatics Center and Director of the Joint Bioinformatics Ph.D. Program of University of Arkansas Little Rock College of Engineering & Information Technology and University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. After finishing her M.S.E.C.E. (Computer Engineering), M.S. (Biological Physics), and Ph.D. degrees from Purdue University with interdisciplinary Bilsland Dissertation Fellowship award, she joined the National Human Genome Research Institute at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Washington DC area in 2005. During her tenure at NIH, she made significant contributions to various large-scale genomics and systems biology research projects. Dr. Yang has been Founding Editor-in-Chief of International Journal of Computational Biology and Drug Design, a NIH PubMed fully indexed journal and is on editorial broads of Journal of Supercomputing and International Journal of Pattern Recognition and Artificial Intelligence. She was recruited to the University of Arkansas in 2013 to guide the MidSouth Bioinformatics Center and joint bioinformatics program. She has served on Steering Committee for NIH funded Arkansas INBRE and Review Committee for United States National Science Foundation (NSF) Advances in Biological Informatics (ABI). She has been the recipient of NIH Fellows Award for Research Excellence, NIH Academic Research Enhancement Award, Purdue Research Foundation Fellowship, IEEE and ISIBM Bioinformatics and Bioengineering Outstanding Achievement Awards, and Basic Science Research Award of Arkansas Science and Technology Authority (ASTA). Dr. Yang is a tenured faculty with the University of Arkansas and her Systems Genomics Laboratory is currently supported by NIH, FDA and ASTA. She has published over one hundred research articles in computer science and biomedical sciences.



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