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People in the News: Chris Evelo, Rolf Apweiler, Ewan Birney, Tim Fennel

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The European Molecular Biology Laboratory has tapped Rolf Apweiler and Ewan Birney to succeed Graham Cameron as associate directors of the European Bioinformatics Institute in 2012.

Currently, Apweiler and Birney jointly run a team that develops public-domain protein and nucleotide databases and tools.

Apweiler heads the UniProt Consortium and leads EBI’s contribution to the Gene Ontology. He also heads a team that develops protein databases, such as InterPro; the Protein Identifications from Proteomics Experiments, or PRIDE, database; and the Molecular Interactions, or IntAct, database.

Apweiler received his PhD from the University of Heidelberg in 1994 and joined EMBL in 1987.

Birney is one of the founders of the Ensembl genome browser and is responsible for all nucleotide databases at EBI, including Ensembl, Ensembl Genomes, and the European Nucleotide Archive. He was also involved in annotating the genome sequences of the human, mouse, chicken, and several other organisms and currently leads the analysis group for the Encyclopedia of DNA Elements project.

He completed his PhD at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and joined EBI in 2000.


Chris Evelo has won Agilent Technologies' Agilent Thought Leader award, which supports the development of software that integrates different types of biological data.

Evelo is a professor in Maastricht University's bioinformatics and systems biology research group, which he started in 2001. He researches methods of integrating different bioinformatics approaches to improve the understanding of large-scale gene expression results.

Evelo's lab helped develop WikiPathways.org as a community-curated platform for structuring multi-omics data as well as an associated open-access pathway analysis tool called PathVisio.

The award will fund the development of tools for visualizing metabolite fluxes using PathVisio in order to make modeling results much more accessible to biologists and easier for them to interpret than abstract graphs. Additionally, the group will also develop a new application that will extend Gene Ontology data to pathway and metabolite analysis.


The Pistoia Alliance has tapped Tim Fennel to serve as the fourth judge for its Sequence Squeeze Competition (BI 10/28/2011).

Fennel is the assistant director for sequencing pipeline informatics at the Broad Institute. His team develops and maintains the Java language bindings for the SAM and BAM file formats as well as the Picard suite of tools for working with next-generation sequence data.

He joins three previously announced panelists: Guy Coates, information systems lead at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute; Yingrui Li, duty operation officer of the BGI; and Nick Lynch, external liaison and past president of the Pistoia Alliance.

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