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February 2023 QCB Newsletter

e-Newsletter Volume 3 Issue 2 | February 2023

Department of Quantitative and Computational Biology

In this short month of February, everyone here in QCB has been super busy – students are taking classes and faculty are teaching while we are working on recruiting and admissions. I want to thank everyone for putting in so much time and effort.

I am excited that we are in the process of sending out formal admission letters to our entering Ph.D. class of 2023-24. I invite all admitted students to join the historically first Ph.D. Program in Computational Biology and Bioinformatics in the world. The graduates of our program have unparalleled opportunities in academia and industry as demonstrated by our successful alumni.

Our current first-year Ph.D. students celebrated their academic success during their first

semester with a recent evening event hosted by Professor Matt Pennell, which provided an opportunity for a meeting with our Ph.D. program’s founder, Professor Michael Waterman.

In March, we will be hosting admitted Ph.D. students on campus. USC’s Department of

Quantitative and Computational Biology is the obvious place to study computational biology and bioinformatics, get a thorough training in the field, and start a successful career.

Remo Rohs, Ph.D.

Department Chair

Dr. Matt Pennell hosted an evening event for the first-year Ph.D. students of the Computational Biology and Bioinformatics Program to meet our founder, Dr. Michael Waterman.

QCB faculty members have contributed to the success of the Michelson Center for Convergent Bioscience over the past five years. Of the seven faculty members named by the Michelson Philanthropies front cover, celebrating five years of interdisciplinary innovation, five are QCB faculty and four are QCB core faculty. Find more details here.

Dr. Mark Chaisson gave a webinar hosted by Pacific Biosciences (PacBio) on methods to characterize Variable Number Tandem Repeat (VNTR) variation. The webinar had an audience of 600 subscribers and can be found here.

Dr. Serghei Mangul, a joint QCB faculty member, was awarded a $3.9 Million NIH grant. This funding will support the development of new software and databases to study diverse populations. See the details of this award here.

CNT3D co-director Dr. Seva Katritch and other QCB faculty co-organized the first Drug Discovery Innovation Workshop, on February 24th. This event brought together more than 150 participants from both USC campuses. The event, also sponsored by the Michelson Center, MESH Academy, and Bridge Institute, showcased new technologies developed at Dornsife and Viterbi, and discussed ways to grow the drug discovery ecosystem at USC. Read more about it here.

CBB graduate student Yuxuan Du from Dr. Fengzhu Sun's group published a paper in Nature Communications. The paper developed a new method for constructing new complete phages and methods for linking phages with their hosts in microbial communities, based on metagenomic Hi-C data.

We are happy to announce that the QBIO Mentorship Program is officially running for the Spring 2023 semester! This program works to pair QBIO upperclassmen with newer QBIO students to share their experience and build community within the department. We have around 40 students currently enrolled in the program, and are planning to host a few cohort-wide events through the rest of the semester. If you are an undergraduate student interested in becoming a mentor or mentee, please sign up through this link. This QBIO Mentorship Program is led by QBIO senior, Colin Yeo (

February 28th (2-3 pm, RRI 101): Seminar by Dr. Molly Przeworski, Professor of Biological Sciences and Systems Biology, Columbia University, on "Why do human germline mutation rates depend on sex and age?"

March 1st (3:30 pm, AHF 153): Seminar by Doc Edge (QCB), Population Biology Series on "Using gene genealogies to understand human complex traits."

March 2nd (2-3 pm, RRI 101): Seminar by Dr. Madan Babu, Endowed Chair and Director of the Center of Excellence for Data Driven Discovery, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, on "Variation in GPCR Signaling: Implications for Drug Discovery."

March 9th (2-3pm, RRI 101): Seminar by Dr. Youyi Fong, Professor of Biostatistics, Bioinformatics, and Epidemiology Program, Vaccine and Infectious Disease Division, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center.

March 23rd (2-3pm, RRI 101): Seminar by Dr. Maureen Saurtor, Professor of Computational Medicine and Bioinformatics, University of Michigan.

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