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April 2023 QCB Newsletter

e-Newsletter Volume 3 Issue 4 | April 2023

Department of Quantitative and Computational Biology

Classes are over and for the first time in a while, we had an entire academic year that felt normal. Wasn’t that great? I think it is something that was good for the students, for the learning experience, and for the spirit of togetherness.

I am looking forward to celebrate our graduates in two weeks at the Ph.D. hooding and graduation ceremonies. It is always my highlight of the year! This year, QCB will give out student awards at the departmental reception. Some of our benefactors will also be present.

I also want to include a huge thank you to our Interim Program Manager, Alma Hernandez, who has approached everything with a huge smile and who solved every task that came her way miraculously and reliably. Thanks, Alma, for making my job easier in the past few months!

With this, I wish everyone a successful finish of the semester and see you all at graduation!


QCB Faculty

Dr. Fengzhu Sun was elected an Institute of Mathematical Statistics (IMS) fellow; Dr. Sun is now an elected fellow of all major statistical associations, including the American Statistical Association (ASA), the statistics section of the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences (AAAS), and the International Statistical Institute (ISI).

Dr. Naomi M. Levine received a 'Simons Investigator in Aquatic Microbial Ecology' Award for the 2023 award year. She is one of only 7 individuals to receive this honor. Find the full list of 2023 awardees here.

Dr. Steve Kay (right), QCB Core Faculty Member, received the 2023 Associates Award for Creativity in Research and Scholarship at the 42nd Annual Academic Honors Convocation. Dr. Kay is one of only two faculty members chosen for this award -- this is the highest honor that the university bestows upon its members for distinguished intellectual achievements.

The 12th Annual Southern California Systems Biology Meeting 2023 brought together on Saturday, April 29, more than 160 trainees and scientists from across the region to, as Dr. Arthur Lander put it in his opening remarks, “define systems biology”. QCB and the Bridge Institute co-initiated and co-hosted the meeting this year at the Michelson Center; it was organized by QCB faculty Drs. Stacey Finley, Adam MacLean, Geoff Fudenberg, and Dr. Nicholas Graham.

Dr. Remo Rohs participated in a CECAM-CSF Workshop in Ascona, Switzerland, on "Multiscale Simulations of DNA from Electrons to Nucleosomes" from April 17-21, 2023. The workshop also celebrated 22 years of the Ascona-B-DNA Consortium and featured keynotes by Drs. Wilma Olson, John Maddocks and others who shaped this field.

QCB Publications

Dr. Jesse Kreger (QCB postdoc) and Dr. Adam MacLean published a paper in collaboration with Evanthia Roussos Torres at the Norris Cancer Center of USC. They introduced new model of stochastic tumor dynamics and fit it to clinical data, to study the effects of myeloid suppressor cell dynamics on tumor outcomes. They found a key interaction between myeloid suppressor cells and tumor controlled outcomes that led to reductions in metastatic tumor growth. Read more about their findings here and the USC Norris News Spotlight here.

Drs. Anastasiia Sadybekov and Seva Katritch published a review in Nature on computationally-driven drug discovery, highlighting breakthroughs in both physics-based methods like V-SYNTHES and machine-learning approaches. Read the paper here, and the USC media publication here.

QBIO Undergraduate Students

The students who took the QBIO 490 section "Multi-Omic Data Analysis" gave their final presentations at RRI101 on Friday, April 28th. They showcased their work from the semester using multi-omic research methods, scientific programming, and analysis of cancer data.

The QBIO Mentorship Program held a Town Hall event on April 28th that celebrated the program's outcomes for this semester, hosted by QBIO Undergraduate Liaison, Colin Yeo. Nearly 1/3 of all QBIO students participated in the program for Spring 2023! The formation of a new QBIO student organization, the 'Quantitative Biology Association' (QBA), was also discussed at this event. QBA will become an official organization in the Fall, and aims to broaden the QCB community at USC.

Upcoming Events

May 10th @ 11AM: Dornsife Ph.D. Hooding Ceremony (including our Ph.D. Graduates in Computational Biology and Bioinformatics) on Allyson Felix Field

May 12th @ 11AM: Dornsife Group One Satellite Ceremony (includes all degres of the Department of Quantitative and Computational Biology) on Allyson Felix Field

May 12th @ 1PM: QCB Department Reception, immediately following the Dornsife Group One Satellite Ceremony, at Michelson Center (MCB) and Irani Hall (RRI) Courtyard

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