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September 2022 QCB Newsletter

Department of Quantitative and Computational Biology

The Fall semester is in full swing. For myself, it was a joy to return to classroom teaching. I am teaching an undergraduate course, QBIO 481 Structural Bioinformatics: From Atoms to Cells. It is exciting to teach a class in a field that changed dramatically due to advances in AI and deep learning. Google’s DeepMind developed AlphaFold since I last taught this class.

This leads me to talk about our QBIO students and their success stories. The Quantitative Biology major started in 2017 and we now have three cohorts of graduates. Where are they now? The QBIO major successfully opened them doors to medical school, graduate school, and industry.

Every QBIO graduate who applied to medical school was accepted to medical school. Every QBIO graduate who applied to MD./Ph.D. programs was accepted to M.D./Ph.D. programs. And every QBIO graduate who applied to Ph.D. programs was accepted to Ph.D. programs. Universities where QBIO graduates were accepted include Caltech, Columbia U., Harvard Medical School, McMaster U., MIT, Northwestern U., Princeton U., UCLA, UCSF, UCSC, U. of Washington, and USC.

We are looking forward to meeting the QBIO families at Trojan Family Weekend.

Remo Rohs, Ph.D.

QCB Department Chair

QCB Faculty

Dr. Matthew Pennell received Tenure in the QCB Department and was appointed as Associate Professor of Quantitative and Computational Biology effective August 16, 2022. Matt joined us from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, where he held Tenure and where he just received for the second time a Canada Research Chair. Welcome, Matt!

We also welcome Chelsea Acevedo who is the new Undergraduate Student Services Adviser for the Quantitative Biology major. Chelsea joins us from UC Irvine. She will have an office next to Dr. Peter Calabrese's office, who is the Director of Undergraduate Studies for the QBIO major. Welcome, Chelsea!

QCB Faculty

Dr. Stacey Finley was recently elected as Fellow of the Biomedical Engineering Society. Congratulations, Stacey! She also received a grant from the USC Ming Hsieh Institute, together with Dr. Evanthia Roussos Torres at the Keck School of Medicine, as well as a U01 grant from the NIH Cancer Systems Biology Consortium as a Co-PI with Dr. Nicholas Graham in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science.

Dr. Seva Katritch was awarded a four-year R01 grant from The National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) for the development of new approaches to structure-based virtual screening of Giga- and Terra-scale chemical libraries for drug discovery. This R01 is based on a Nature paper that Dr. Katritch recently published. (See article here).

Dr. Peter Calabrese coauthored a paper with Dr. Xiaojiang Chen from the Department of Biological Sciences that was highlighted by the Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences that shows the first experimental evidence explaining why the COVID-19 virus produces variants, such as the delta and omicron variants, so quickly. (See article here).

Dr. Steve Kay published an article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, U.S.A. about his breakthrough work on Glioblastoma, the most common cancerous brain tumor in adults, which was highlighted in the Keck School of Medicine News. (See article here).

QCB Postdocs

QCB Postdocs, Drs. Vivian Link, Pavel Rehak and Ivy Xiong, welcomed new Postdocs Drs. Rex Jiang and Tina Lasisi to USC.

QBIO Undergraduate Students

QBIO senior, Shannon Brownlee, co-founded a start-up Valence Vibrations. The neurotech company has developed an application that translates vocal pitch patterns into discrete vibrations on a haptic wristband. (See article here).

The QCB Department would like to thank our new QBIO undergraduate advisor, Chelsea Acevedo, who already helped staff the QBIO table at the Dornsife Major and Minor Fair last month, together with Katie Boeck, students, staff and faculty.

Departmental Seminars

Dr. Sudhir Kumar, Professor, Temple University

"Green Technologies for Phylomedicine and Phylogenomics."

October 20, 2022, 2-3 pm, RRI 101

Dr. Barbara Stranger, Associate Professor Northwestern University

October 27, 2022, 2-3 pm, RRI 101

Dr. Shaun Mahony, Associate Professor, Penn State University

"Understanding the sequence and chromatin determinants of transcription factor binding."

November 3, 2022, 2-3 pm, RRI 101

QCB Book Club

The Dynamics Club is having a guest Lecture on Pattern Formation featuring Drs. Dagmar Iber and Denis Menshykau, Thursday October 20, 2022 8:30 a.m.-10:00 a.m., Zoom Meeting ID: 931 9584 8878 Passcode: 665965. All are welcome!

Postdoctoral Positions Open

The Edge Lab is accepting postdoctoral applications in evolutionary genetics (

Postdoctoral positions in 3D genome biology are open in the Fudenberg Research Group (

The Katritch Lab is accepting postdoctoral applications in structural bioinformatics and drug discovery (

USC Parent's Weekend

USC Homecoming

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