Integrative Genomics

Overview

The Division of Integrative Genomics, led by Andrew Allen, PhD, serves as the academic home for genomics researchers within the School of Medicine (SOM) and is one of three divisions in the Department of Biostatistics and Bioinformatics (B&B). Previously the Division of Statistics and Computational Biology, the Division of Integrative Genomics was renamed in 2018 to reflect the group’s broad expertise, covering the spectrum of genomic sciences. The division is currently comprised of 15 research-oriented faculty members, as well as numerous postdoctoral associates, bioinformaticians, PhD students, and lab research staff. The expertise of this dynamic and effective group spans the discipline and includes scientists working in evolutionary and population genomics, functional genomics, medical genetics, statistical and computational genomics, and genomic technology development.

Beyond leading a diverse, externally-funded research portfolio, division faculty are actively engaged with institutional initiatives and programs, including:

  • Leadership and membership roles in the Duke Cancer Institute and Duke Molecular Physiology Institute, Center for Statistical Genetics and Genomics, and Center for Human Systems Immunology;
  • Leadership and teaching roles in the Biostatistics, Computational Biology and Bioinformatics, and Genetics and Genomics educational programs; and
  • Membership roles with the Center for Genomic and Computational Biology, Center for Advanced Genomic Technology, Duke Microbiome Center.

Our Mission

The mission of the Division of Integrative Genomics is to promote innovative and high-impact genomic research and education by providing a robust and diverse scientific environment through partnership, integrity, and vision.

People

The Integrative Genomics division consists of researchers and students with expertise spanning dry to wet labs. Members of the division have primary appointments with the Department of Biostatistics & Bioinformatics and coalesce around a common interest in genetics and genomics. The group partners with researchers within the division, as well as with external collaborators, to develop novel computational methods and genomic approaches to advance our understanding of the genome and ultimately contribute to the “genomic revolution.” We invite you to learn more about the people in our division and specific interests of the group.

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Spotlight

Raluca Gordan, Ph.D

 

As a founding member of the Division of Integrative Genomics, Raluca Gordan is a pillar of the genomic research community here at Duke.  Dr. Gordan’s primary research focuses on the interactions between proteins and DNA and how genetic mutations affect these interactions and subsequently cell function.  She is particularly interested in the mechanisms by which transcription factors are recruited to genomic sites, both in vitro and in vivo, and how this recruitment is affected by changes and damages in the DNA. Her work uses high-throughput genomic assays, molecular biology and biochemistry techniques, and machine-learning approaches that combine different types of biological information relevant for protein-DNA binding and transcriptional regulation.

Since 2011 she has been the recipient of numerous grants, authoring over 30 publications  and in addition to her research, she teaches and mentors in the Computational Biology and Bioinformatics Program, the Duke Computer Science Program, the Cell and Molecular Biology Program, and the Molecular Genetics and Microbiology Program.  

After receiving a prestigious 4-year NIH R01 award earlier this year focused on the role of transcription factor proteins in mutagenesis, and contributing as a collaborator to the renewal of another 4-year NIH R01 award (“Role of DNA structural dynamics in mutagenesis and oncogenesis”, led by Dr. Hashim Al-Hashimi, Duke Biochemistry),  Dr. Gordan’s most recent award is from the U.S.-Israel Binational Science Foundation (BSF) for “Helix-distorting DNA damages at transcription factor binding sites: causes and effects.”  This grant was awarded to Dr. Gordan and Dr. Sheera Adar (The Hebrew University, Jerusalem), and is a perfect example of the type of collaborative work the department frequently engages in with external collaborators. 

The U.S.-Israel Binational Science Foundation (BSF) promotes scientific relations between the U.S. and Israel by supporting collaborative research projects in a wide range of basic and applied scientific fields.  Grants are made on a competitive, peer reviewed basis, juried by leading scientists from the U.S., Israel and around the world. Eligible projects must demonstrate outstanding scientific merit and clear collaboration between Israeli and American researchers. From their grant submission, they wrote “Our genome carries the blueprints to create each cell in our body, and the information needed for each one of those cells to function. However, genomic DNA is constantly damaged by both internal and external agents, such as byproducts of metabolism or carcinogens in our environment. Fortunately, cells have multiple mechanisms in place to recognize DNA damage, initiate a response, and recruit proteins that repair the DNA. In our labs, we use technologies that combine experimental and computational biology to study the regulation of genome function (the Gordan lab at Duke University) and how DNA damages are formed and repaired (the Adar lab at the Hebrew University). We will join forces to understand precisely how DNA damages affect genome function, and how the proteins that bind DNA in order to regulate genome function could affect damage formation. Our work focuses on DNA damages induced by ultraviolet radiation in sunlight, and on the chemotherapy drug Cisplatin. Our aim is to understand how these damages affect the expression of genes, and how the proteins that regulate gene expression, in turn, influence damage formation, repair, and subsequently mutagenesis.”

When not at Duke, Raluca enjoys science projects with her daughter, and spending quality time with family and friends.

 

Research Interests

Members of the division represent research interests spanning the field of genomics. Whether working independently or collaboratively, the group strives to promote genomic research and contribute to a rich academic environment for investigators and trainees.

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