Computational Biology Department Celebrates 10th Anniversary
By Byron Spice
Current and former students, faculty and staff members gathered this past weekend to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Computational Biology Department becoming the first of its kind in the country to be part of a computer science school.
Established as the Ray and Stephanie Lane Center for Computational Biology in 2007, it became an academic unit within the School of Computer Science in 2009, coinciding with its move into the then brand-new Hillman Center for Future Generation Technologies. The Lane Center changed its name to the Computational Biology Department in 2015.
The celebration centered on a full day of talks and panel discussions on Saturday in the Rashid Auditorium. Speakers included alumni such as Aaron Wise, a bioinformatics scientist at Illumina, a company that develops integrated systems for the analysis of genetic variation and biological function; Saha Kadri, director of bioinformatics at the University of Chicago’s Genomic and Molecular Pathology Division; and Greg Johnson, a scientist in the Animated Cell Group at the Allen Institute.
Other speakers included Xin He, a former post-doctoral researcher who is now an assistant professor at the University of Chicago Department of Human Genetics; Karen Thickman, formerly the assistant director of master’s programs at the Lane Center and now a lecturer at the University of Washington School of Medicine; Cheemeng Tan, a former Lane Fellow and Branco-Weiss Fellow, who is now associate professor of biomedical engineering at the University of California Davis; and Darya Flippova, a former Ph.D. student in computational biology, now a Senior Data Scientist at Grail, Inc.
CMU President Farnam Jahanian and Robert Murphy, department director and Lane Professor of Computational Biology, also shared remarks.
Though the Lane Center was founded in 2007, the origins of computational biology at CMU go back to 1989, when the first degrees in a computational biology program were awarded. Master’s and doctoral programs, including a joint program with the University of Pittsburgh, were later established. Since becoming a department within SCS, the department has launched an undergraduate major in computational biology — the first new major since SCS was established in 1989 — and a new master’s degree in automated science.