September 2021 QCB Newsletter

Department of Quantitative and Computational Biology

The Department of Quantitative and Computational Biology (QCB) is USC’s newest academic department. The QCB Department will continue to pioneer and apply computational methods and data science to answer biological and biomedical questions. Our academic programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels train 21st century biologists.

Our QCB Department has a new web presence:

All our current junior faculty have recently received substantial external funding, including NSF CAREER awards and NIH R01 and R35 MIRA grants. Our first undergraduate students have graduated and moved on to medical school, graduate school, and MD-PhD programs at universities such as Caltech, Columbia University, and Harvard Medical School, or joined the biotech, pharmaceutical, or software industry.

USC started one of the historically first PhD programs in computational biology in the world, and we will celebrate soon 40 years of computational biology at USC. With the new QCB Department, USC has assumed a unique position to define the future of the life sciences in research and education in an era of computation, AI, and data science.

Remo Rohs, QCB Department Chair,

Advisory Board

QCB formed an Advisory Board comprised of these distinguished scientists and leaders in the field: Dr. Ivet Bahar (Professor and Chair, University of Pittsburgh), Dr. Bonnie Berger (Professor, MIT), Jay Flatley (Former Chairman and CEO, Illumina), Dr. Barry Honig (Professor and Director, Columbia University), Ming Hsieh (Chairman and CEO, Fulgent Genetics, USC Trustee), Dr. Mike Levine (Professor and Director, Princeton University), Dr. Andrew Viterbi (Co-Founder, Qualcomm, USC Trustee) and Dr. Bin Yu (Professor and former Chair, UC Berkeley). Read more about our Advisory Board here.

New Faculty

Dr. Jazlyn Mooney will join QCB as Gabilan Assistant Professor. Jazlyn completed her Ph.D. in Human Genetics at UCLA and a postdoc at Stanford University. Her research combines computational approaches with population genetics theory to better understand genetic variation, medical genetics, and human evolution.

Click here to read more about Dr. Mooney's research

Dr. Matt Pennell will join QCB as an Associate Professor. Matt earned his Ph.D. in Bioinformatics and Computational Biology from the University of Idaho; and then he moved to the University of British Columbia to be a Postdoctoral Fellow and, subsequently, a faculty member in the Department of Zoology. In his research, he uses phylogenetic trees to study evolution at multiple scales.

Click here to read more about Dr. Pennell's research

New Grants Funded

September 17, 2021: Adam MacLean received an NIH R35 MIRA grant.

August 16, 2021: Fengzhu Sun received a new NSF grant.

July 23, 2021: Geoff Fudenberg received an NIH R35 MIRA grant.

July 20, 2021: Mark Chaisson received an NSF CAREER Award.

July 8, 2021: Mark Chaisson received an NIH R01 grant.

May 15, 2021: Seva Katritch received an NIH UH3 grant.

February 4, 2021: Adam Maclean received an NSF CAREER award.

February 3, 2021: Naomi Levine received an NSF CAREER award.

August 31, 2020: Doc Edge received an NIH R35 MIRA grant.

University Professor Emeritus, Michael Waterman, was featured in a Magazine of Oregon State University, the Oregon Stater. The article, titled "An Audacious Mind", follows Dr. Waterman from an isolated childhood, driven by an unquenchable curiosity and a world class intellect, to the creation of math that helps biologists understand the essence of life. Read article here

Faculty Awards and Promotions

June 18, 2021: Steve Kay was named the David L. Lee-Simon Ramo Chair in Health Sciences and Technology. (Click here to read article).

March 18, 2021: Peter Calabrese and Rory Spence were promoted to Associate Professors (Teaching).

March 16, 2021: Michael Waterman was selected for a USC Faculty Lifetime Achievement Award.

March 4, 2021: Seva Katritch was promoted to Associate Professor with Tenure.

February 15, 2021: Stacey Finley was elected Fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE).

January 20, 2021: Liang Chen was promoted to Full Professor.

QBIO Undergraduate Student News

August 26, 2021: QBIO student Leon Zha received the EH MATTERS fellowship. (Click here to read article)

August 23, 2021: QBIO student Kate Guion contributed to a paper in Nature Biotechnology (Click here to read article) (See press release).

May 6, 2021: QBIO student Bryson Choy received a Barry Goldwater Scholarship. (Click here to read article)

April 20, 2020: QBIO student Emily Yang receives Barry Goldwater Scholarship. (Click here to read article)

CBB Graduate Student News

September 7, 2021: CBB student Zifan Zhu and Professor Fengzhu Sun published a paper in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. (Click here to read article)

August 8, 2021: CBB student Bryan Dinh received an NIH F31 Predoctoral Fellowship.

July 12, 2021: CBB student Tsung-Yu Lu and Assistant Professor Mark Chaisson published a paper in Nature Communications. (Click here to read article) (See USC press release).

June 21, 2021: CBB student Jingwen Ren and Assistant Professor Mark Chaisson published a paper in PLOS Computational Biology. (Click here to read article)

May 11, 2021: CBB student Raktim Mitra and Assistant Professor Adam MacLean published a paper in Bioinformatics. (Click here to read article)

March 5, 2021: CBB student Megan Franke gave invited talks on her work modeling cell-cell communication at two conferences: JuliaCon, and the SoCal SysBio annual meeting.


Dr. Michael "Doc" Edge, Assistant Professor, University of Southern California "The New Forensic Genetics: Long-Range Search and its Privacy Implications"

September 30, 2021 2-3 pm RRI 101

Dr. Quade French, Office of USC Campus Wellbeing & Education, University of Southern California "QCB DEI Climate Survey: Results and Discussion" October 7, 2021 2-3 pm RRI 101 Save the Date: The QCB Retreat will start on Friday, November 19, 2021 at the Crowne Plaza in Ventura, CA

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