Ewan Birney and Rolf Apweiler have been appointed joint directors of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory – European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI). They willl take over from Janet Thornton who is stepping down after holding the post for 14 years.
Birney and Apweiler will assume their new roles on July 1. As co-directors, they will share responsibility for all aspects of EMBL-EBI, including services, research, training, industry engagement, and European coordination. Birney and Thornton will also continue to lead their respective research groups.
Apweiler has a doctorate in biology from the University of Heidelberg. He joined EMBL in 1987 to work on the Swiss-Prot protein sequence database and became leader of the Swiss-Prot group at EMBL-EBI in 1994. He and Birney jointly led the protein and nucleotide data resources at EMBL-EBI from 2007 to 2012 and were responsible for the delivery of bioinformatics services as joint associate directors from 2012. Apweiler is actively involved in many international initiatives, including the Human Proteome Organization and the Proteomics Standards Initiative, which he chaired from 2002 to 2005.
Birney completed his doctorate at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in 2000. In addition to playing a vital role in annotating the genomes of human, mouse, chicken, and other organisms, he led the analysis group for the ENCODE project. His research interests include functional genomics, assembly algorithms, statistical methods to analyze genomic information, and compression of sequence information.