Board of Directors

MCBIOS 2019 Election

President Elect Candidates

Candidate 1: Jake Chen, Ph.D., Professor, University of Alabama Bermingham


Dr. Jake Y. Chen is a Professor of Genetics, Computer Science, and Biomedical Engineering at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). He is also the Chief Bioinformatics Officer of UAB’s Informatics Institute and Head of the Informatics Section of the Genetics Department. At UAB, he oversees bioinformatics training, research collaborations, and service support cooperations with the Comprehensive Cancer Center, Center for Clinical and Translational Sciences, and genomic data science initiatives. He has more than 20 years of research experience in biological data mining, systems biology, and translational bioinformatics, with more than 150 peer-reviewed publications.

Prior to joining UAB, he held tenured faculty positions at Indiana University and Purdue University and worked as principle bioinformatics scientists at Affymetrix and Myriad Proteomics. He is currently on the editorial boards of BMC Bioinformatics, Journal of American Medical Informatics Association (JAMIA), and Personalized Medicine. He is a passionate bioinformatics educator, having been honored three times as Indiana’s “Technology Educator of the Year” MIRA Award finalists and listed as one of the “17 Informatics Experts Worth Listening to” for founding Indiana Center for Systems Biology and Personalized Medicine more than a decade ago.

Experience and contributions to MCBIOS

My students and I have been attending MCBIOS for over a decade. We have also published in the MCBIOS Proceedings in special issues in BMC Bioinformatics for more than five times over the years. Since 2018, I have also been serving as a MCBIOS board member.

In 2019, I am the chair of MCBIOS 2019. So far, the conference organization has been successful, having raised $19,000 sponsorship funds from UAB various institutions and attracted top nationwide keynote speakers including Mark Gerstein from Yale. The meeting has a completely fresh look for its web site, a significant facelift from previous meeting. The meeting organizations have involved the broad participations of >30 individuals, including MCBIOS board members, a new program committee consisting session chairs, workshop and poster chairs, and many other volunteers to take care of professional development activities, workshops, and poster sessions. I also created a new format called “round-table discussions” to allow broader participations by those who wouldn’t have participated in the conference using the traditional podium/poster presentation formats. These innovations allow MCBIOS 2019 to create impacts to reach new heights for the organization.

Plan for Future

First, I will carry the energy of organizing MCBIOS ’19 to the future organization of MCBIOS. I will work with the board to review and introduce changes necessary to broaden our membership outreach to existing/new geographical locations. Second, I will help provide institutional guidance to future MCBIOS meeting organizations. Third, I will help MCBIOS develop media and communication strategies, e.g., new web sites, Facebook pages, Twitter feeds, to attract interactions of members to interact with the organization in between annual meetings. Last but not least, I will work with ISCB and our board to attempt listing MCBIOS as one of the major affiliates of ISCB on their web site and at future ISMB meetings.


Candidate 2: Inimary Toby, Ph.D, Assistant Professor, University of Dallas



My organizational experience prior to MCBIOS includes working with the American Physiological Society, (APS) organization for over 8 years. I served as a local outreach coordinator for K-12 science programs, K-12 teaching fellow, and annual conference mentor. I have also served as a contributing scientist to help support standard practices for data capturing and data analysis of immune repertoire sequence data in the adaptive immune receptor repertoire (AIRR) community. My professional experience includes, working at PUI campuses and research institutes at the instructional and research level. I have been an MCBIOS member for a number of years and currently serve as the MCBIOS Secretary. I have received several awards over the years including most recently being named a University of Dallas Haggar Scholar. Additional awards, I’ve received include: NIH pre-doctoral fellowship, AAAS postdoctoral fellowship, FASEB trainee award, and American Physiological Society (APS) fellowship and travel award.


Experience and contributions to MCBIOS


My previous roles at MCBIOS conferences include:

(1) Coordinating programmatic activities for trainees at MCBIOS 2017

(2) Developing a trainee career session for the colloquium meeting at UALR in 2017

 (3) Leading the trainee career development session at MCBIOS 2018

(4) Coordinating the resume clinic at MCBIOS 2018

My current roles in the MCBIOS organization include:

(1) Serving as the MCBIOS secretary

(2) Serving as a liaison member for the DFW area

(3) Promoting interactions between MCBIOS sponsoring institutes, University of Dallas, and research groups within the DFW area.


Plan for Future


The MCBIOS is an organization located at the interface of promoting trainee development, facilitating scientific interactions, and encouraging intellectual development. If elected to this position, my goals would be as follows:

1) To continue to build upon the foundations of the MCBIOS organization as stated in the Bylaws.

2) To continue strengthening the grassroots of the MCBIOS as this is crucial to maintaining a strong organization.

3) To leverage industry partnerships and local/community resources for MCBIOS activities.

4) To work with the Board to maintain fiscal efficiency and establish long-term vision.

5) To evaluate current programmatic activities and plan for any modifications needed.

6) To promote efficiency and effectiveness of the board by maintaining communication.


Board Member Candidates

Steven Foley, Ph.D., FDA-National Center for Toxicological Research


I am a Supervisory Research Microbiologist and Deputy Director of the Division of Microbiology at FDA’s National Center for Toxicological Research (NCTR) in Jefferson, Arkansas.  I earned my B.S. in Zoology and Ph.D. in Cellular and Molecular Biology/Infectious Diseases from North Dakota State University in Fargo.  After completing my Ph.D. studies, I was a postdoctoral fellow with FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine; after which I was an Assistant Professor at the University of Central Arkansas and an Associate Research Scientist at the Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation in Wisconsin prior to joining NCTR.  My research interests are largely in the fields of bacterial pathogenesis and antimicrobial resistance among bacterial foodborne pathogens and understanding the distribution of microbial populations in FDA-regulated products. Through these studies, I have utilized several bioinformatics and computation biology approaches to better understand the biological results obtained in the lab.  I am also an Adjunct Professor in the Food Science Department and a member of the Cell and Molecular Biology graduate faculty at the University of Arkansas.  I currently serves on several FDA-wide committees and am a member of the Interagency Risk Assessment Consortium and the Health and Environmental Sciences Institute’s Microbiome Subcommittee.  

Experience and contributions to MCBIOS

I attended in the first MCBIOS conference while a new faculty member at the University of Central Arkansas, where one of my students presented her research findings.  I believed that the conference was an excellent forum to showcase the evolving field of computational biology and bioinformatics.  I moved to Wisconsin in 2005 and did not participate in MCBIOS conferences for several years.  After joining NCTR and continuing to see the importance of computation biology and bioinformatics for our research program and others in the microbiology field, it was important to participate in the conferences once again, when the conference travel budgets allowed.  I served as a session chair for the conferences in 2016 and 2017 and was a speaker at the 2016 meeting in Memphis.  Multiple members of my research team also participated in and presented posters at the 2017 conference that was held in Little Rock.  While I was not able to participate in the 2018 meeting, I look forward to potential opportunities (if selected) to participate in upcoming MCBIOS conferences and activities.

Future Plans

My training and experience has been as a “wet” laboratory scientist; however, very early on I realized that there is a vital need for computational support to aid in the interpretation of laboratory data to help maximize its utility.  In working with those who come at the questions from the computational side first, one of the issues that I have seen is whether the results obtained have biological relevance; conversely the biologists often have challenges with understanding the computational needs to facilitate data analyses.  As a potential leader in MCBIOS, one of the goals would be to help fine tune the focus on bridging the biological-computational disconnects that can sometimes happen.  A great deal of our recent research work has revolved around the use of whole genome sequencing of microbial pathogens.  There are numerous tools out there to analyze the data, however there still are big gaps in being able to predict the biological function or contributions of different genes.  We are trying to develop laboratory approaches to more rapidly validate the biological predictions and are trying to develop improved bioinformatics tools/datasets that accurately predict the biological function.  With the strong computational scientists and experimental biologists that are located in the mid-South region (and society participants outside the region) I believe that MCBIOS provides an outstanding platform to combat the data gaps in predictive biology from both sides to improve the overall efficacy.  I see my role as a leader in MCBIOS as trying to help define the needs and bring the interested parties together to work collaboratively to tackle the challenges.  As part of this, it would include the development of relevant scientific sessions at upcoming conferences and mentoring junior scientists in computational and predictive biology.


Zhaohui “Steve” Qin, Ph.D., Department of Biostatistics and Bioinformatics, Emory University


Zhaohui “Steve” Qin is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Biostatistics and Bioinformatics at Emory University. He is also an affiliated faculty member at the Department of Biomedical Informatics, Emory University School of Medicine. Dr. Qin received his Ph.D. in Statistics from University of Michigan in 2000. He has 16 years of experience in statistical modeling and computing with applications in statistical genetics and genomics. He also actively collaborates with biomedical scientists and clinicians on projects that utilize high throughput technologies to study complex diseases and cancer. Dr. Qin has published more than 100 peer-reviewed publications with more than 19,000 citations according to Google Scholar. He has served as PI or MPI on multiple NIH and NSF grants. He has mentored nine PhD students and five postdocs. Dr. Qin is an active member of the Bioinformatics research community by participating in review panels, serving on journal editorial boards and organizing workshops and invited sessions in conferences. He leads a Bioinformatics research group at Emory and also serves as the director of graduate studies in his department.

Experience and Contributions to MCBIOS 

Dr. Qin organized an break-out session in the upcoming MCBISO 2019 conference.

Future Plans

If elected, I plan to promote MCBIOS at Emory University and in the greater Atlanta metro area. I plan to attend future MCBIOS annual conferences and participate in the organization of this conference series. I am also interested in help hosting a future MCBIOS conference at Emory University.


Current MCBIOS Board (2018-2019)

  • Ramin Homayouni, Ph.D., President, Board Member through 2021, Professor of Biology, Director of Bioinformatics, University of Memphis, Memphis TN
  • Weida Tong, Ph.D., President-Elect, Board member through 2022,  Division Director, Bioinformatics & Biostatistics, FDA National Center for Toxicology Research, Jefferson AR
  • Bindu Nanduri, Ph.D., Past-President, Board Member through 2020, Associate Professor, College of Veterinary Medicine, Mississippi State University, Mississippi State, MS
  • Cesar Compadre, Ph.D., Treasurer, Professor, Board Member through 2021, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock, AR
  •  Inimary Toby, Ph.D., Secretary, Board Member through 2020, Senior Computational Scientist, UT Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, TX


  • Shraddha Thakkar, Ph.D. (Past-President), Board Member through 2019, Staff Scientist, FDA National Center for Toxicology Research, Jefferson AR
  • Ping Gong, Ph.D., Board Member through 2019, Research Biologist, US Army Engineer Research and Development Center, Vicksburg, MS
  • Yongsheng Bai, Ph.D., Board Member through 2020, Assistant Professor, Indiana StateUniversity, Terra Haute, IN
  • Huixiao Hong, Ph.D., Board Member through 2020, Research Chemist, FDA National Center for Toxicology Research, Jefferson, AR
  • Darin E. Jones, Ph.D., Board Member through 2021 Assistant Professor, University of Arkansas at Little Rock, Little Rock, AR
  • Prashanti Manda Ph.D., Board Member through 2021, Assistant Professor, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Greensboro, NC
  • Mary Yang, Ph.D., Board Member through 2021, Associate Professor, University of Arkansas at Little Rock, Little Rock, AR
  • Jake Chen, Ph.D., Board Member through 2022, Professor & Associate Director, Informatics Institute, University of Alabama Brimingham, AL
  • Robert Doerkson, Ph.D., Board Member through 2022, Professor & Associate Dean, University of Mississippi, MS


  • Ujwani Nukala, MS, Student Representative, Board Member through 2020, UALR/UAMS joint bioinformatics program, Little Rock, AR


*Terms expire at the conclusion of the annual conference during the indicated year.


MCBIOS Past-Presidents

Steven F. Jennings, Ph.D., 1st President
ex officio Board Member, Professor, Department of Information Science University Arkansas at Little Rock

William Slikker, Jr., Ph.D., 2nd President
ex officio Board Member, Director, National Center for Toxicological Research (NCTR), U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Jefferson, AR

Stephen Winters-Hilt, Ph.D., 3rd President
ex officio Board Member, Associate Professor, Dept. of Computer Science, University of New Orleans Director, Nanopore Biophysics Lab, Research Institute for Children

Jonathan Wren, Ph.D., 4th President
ex officio Board Member, Assistant Member Arthritis & Immunology Department Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation

Dawn Wilkins Ph.D., 5th President
ex officio Board Member, Associate Professor, Dept. of Computer and Information Science University of Mississippi

Daniel Berleant, Ph.D., 6th President
ex officio Board Member, Associate Professor, Dept. of Information Science University Arkansas at Little Rock

Ulisses Braga-Neto, Ph.D., 7th President
ex officio Board Member, Assistant Professor, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering Texas A&M University, College Station, TX

Doris M. Kupfer, Ph.D.,  8th President
ex officio Board Member, Research Scientist, Functional Genomics Civil Aerospace Medical Institute, FAA, Oklahoma City, OK

Ed Perkins, Ph.D.,  9th President
ex officio Board Member, Senior Research Scientist, Engineer Research and Development Center, US Army Corps of Engineers, Vicksburg, MS

Andy D. Perkins, Ph.D., 10th President
ex officio Board Member, Associate Professor, Department of Computer Science and Engineering, Mississippi State University, Starkville MS

Chaoyang (Joe) Zhang, Ph.D., 11th President
ex officio Board Member, Professor, University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg MS

Cesar M. Compadre, Ph.D., 12th President
ex officio Board Member, Professor,University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock, AR

Shraddha Thakkar, Ph.D., 13th President
ex officio Board Member, Staff Scientist, National Center for Toxicological Research (NCTR), U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Jefferson, AR

Bindu Nanduri, Ph.D., 14th President
ex officio Board Member, Associate Professor, College of Veterinary Medicine, Mississippi State University, Mississippi State, MS