After eight years as in-house bioinformatics expert at The Institute of Genomic Research in Rockville, Md., Steven Salzberg is heading for the nearby University of Maryland campus in College Park. His departure, he says, will allow him to help build the university’s revitalized Center for Bioinformatics and Computational Biology while still keeping a joint appointment at TIGR. Salzberg’s departure follows that of John Quackenbush earlier this year, who left TIGR to take a joint faculty position at the Harvard School of Public Health and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Cambridge.
While Salzberg says he was aware of Maryland’s interest in recruiting bioinformatics researchers, only recently did he realize that the university’s level of commitment involved hiring six new faculty at the center, in addition to the four scientists currently with appointments. “This is an opportunity to build a world-class center, and I know I can’t do it alone,” he says. “We’ll need breadth in the way of new faculty,” he adds, in addition to the 10 current members of his group that he plans to bring with him from TIGR.
At this point, Salzberg says he’s looking for new faculty generally involved in bioinformatics as applied to genomics, such as those working in comparative, evolutionary, human, and microbial genomics, as well as microarray expression data analysis. Three of the new positions will be in the life sciences, and three in the computational sciences, he adds. “We’ll really be an interdisciplinary center.”
As director of the center, Salzberg says he’s not necessarily trying to model it after an already existing center elsewhere, although he does see David Botstein’s Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics at Princeton University as an inspiration. Maryland already has one of the top computer science departments in the country, Salzberg says, and “I’m hoping that at Maryland we can also build genomics and merge that together with the bioinformatics center that I’m directing,” he says.
— John S. MacNeil