About Bioinformatics and Computational Biology


Leader in BCB Programs in the U.S.

Iowa State University has been recognized as one of the top Bioinformatics and Computational Biology (BCB) PhD programs in the nation with the award of two Integrative Graduate Education and Research Training (IGERT) grants from the National Science Foundation. Only one other program in the nation has received two IGERT awards.

Recently, BCB faculty members were awarded another five year, $3 million NSF training grant which will create 7 new fellowship opportunities each year at Iowa State in BCB and several other graduate programs in Predictive Plant Phenomics. More information is here.

The Iowa State University Bioinformatics and Computational Biology (BCB) Program offers Ph.D. training at the intersections of Biological, Computing and Information Sciences. BCB alums have achieved superior outcomes in the academic, industrial and public sectors.  Information on BCB alum outcomes for our 100+ graduates is on the alumni page.

The BCB Graduate program is one of the first Bioinformatics and Computational Biology PhD programs in the United States. A history of the BCB program is here.

Administration of the BCB Program

Because BCB is an interdepartmental graduate program, faculty from many departments participate in the program. They contribute their time and energy to mentoring students in the BCB major and to leading the program through administrative roles.  Currently, Carolyn Lawrence, GDCB, and Iddo Friedberg, Veterinary Microbiology and Preventive Medicine, are the chair and Associate Chair of the BCB program.  More information on BCB faculty and others involved with the administration of the BCB program can be found here.

On the move

An Iowa State University presidential initiative in Big Data recruited several new faculty and provided for state-of-the art supercomputing resources.  A number of these faculty have joined the Bioinformatics and Computational Biology (BCB) Graduate Program faculty.  These researchers continue to enhance our interdisciplinary graduate program and bring exciting research opportunities for incoming BCB students. 

Here is a summary of their research interests:

  • Carolyn Lawrence, GDCB, Phenotype Prediction for Basic Research, Comparative Genomics
  • Geetu Tuteja, GDCB, Gene regulation in development and disease.
  • Wei Wang, PPM, Systems biology (circadian clock and plant immunity).
  • Justin Walley, PPM, Plant-microbe interactions.
  • Tracy Heath, EEOB, Computational/statistics methods for phylogenetics.
  • Amy Vincent, USDA-ARS, Epidemiology of influenza in swine.
  • Iddo Friedberg, VMPM, Protein structure/function prediction.
  • Ludovico Cademartiri, MSE, Plant-plant interactions via roots.
  • Adina Howe, ABE, Complex microbial systems.
  • Julie Kuhlman, GDCB, Development of enteric nervous system.
  • Marna Yandeau-Nelson, BBMB, Genetic networks of metabolomic traits.

Interdisciplinary Research Opportunities

Iowa State University (ISU) has world-class research programs in Statistics, Bioinformatics, and Computational and Information Sciences and Engineering.

Predictive Plant Phenomics

Recently BCB faculty obtained a $3 million, 5 year, NSF Research Traineeship (NRT) grant in the Predictive Phenomics of Plants (P3).  They are interested in recruiting exceptional students capable of addressing the major agronomic challenges of the 21st century. P3 fellows will be trained in Engineering, Plant Sciences, and Data Sciences.

A P3 interdisciplinary specialization has been created in the BCB degree program to accommodate students who obtain this fellowship.  BCB faculty member, Julie Dickerson, ECPE, is the PI on the grant.  Pat Schnable, Agronomy, Carolyn Lawrence-Dill, GDCB and Theodore Heindel, MechEngr are the Co-PIs.

The website for the P3 is here:  https://www.predictivephenomicsinplants.iastate.edu/

Biorenewable Chemicals

A National Science Foundation (NSF) award of $18.5 million in 2008 for an Engineering Research Center for Biorenewable Chemicals has been continued with maximum funding of $35.26 million until 2018.  Basil Nikolau, a BCB faculty member in the Department of Biochemistry, Biophysics and Molecular Biology (BBMB), is deputy director of the Center (known as CBiRC, "See-burk"). 

Plant, Animal and Microbial Genome Research

Iowa State conducts major plant, animal and microbial genome research projects which are recognized internationally. Many BCB faculty are involved with leadership for these projects.  Christopher Tuggle, BCB faculty member in the Animal Science Department, is co-coordinator of the U.S. Swine Genome Coordination Program which helps develop bioinformatics resources to aid researchers around the nation.  He recently was appointed chair of FAANG, a large consortium on animal functional genomics (see www.faang.org).

Join the Adventure !

Students can participate in research efforts led by world-class faculty who have interdisciplinary research programs funded by grants which totaled nearly half a billion dollars in 2017, including support from the NSF, NIH (National Institutes of Health), USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

Students in our program develop an independent approach to their studies through an interdisciplinary curriculum. More than 70 faculty members from 18 academic departments participate in our program. Students have the opportunity to conduct research in all major research areas of computational molecular biology, including genomics, metagenomics, structural genomics, functional genomics, phylogenetics, and computational systems biology, with access to some of the most modern experimental platforms.

Iowa State - promotes the concept of inclusion and participation

Iowa State values an inclusive environment and has an affirmative action statement in place regarding this.