MCBIOS Board of Directors Candidates 18

Candidate for President Elect

Weida Tong, Ph.D., Director, Division of Bioinformatics and Biostatistics, National Center for Toxicological Research, US FDA

Bio:
Dr. Tong is Director of Division of Bioinformatics and Biostatistics at FDA’s National Center for Toxicological Research (NCTR/FDA). He has served science advisory board for several multi-institutional projects in Europe and USA. He also holds an adjunct appointment at several universities. Also, he is the founder and board chairperson of newly established international MAQC Society. His division at FDA is to develop bioinformatic methodologies and standards to support FDA research and regulation and to advance regulatory science and personalized medicine. The most visible projects from his group are (1) conducting the Microarray and Sequencing Quality Control (MAQC/SEQC) consortium to develop standard analysis protocols and quality control metrics for emerging technologies to support regulatory science and precision medicine; (2) development of liver toxicity knowledge base (LTKB) for drug safety; (4) in silico drug repositioning for the enhanced treatment of rare diseases; and (4) development of various tools such as ArrayTrackTM suite to support FDA review and research on pharmacogenomics. Also, his group also specializes in molecular modeling and QSARs with a specific interest in estrogen, androgen, and endocrine disruptor.  Dr. Tong has published more than 250 papers and book chapters.

Experience and contribution to MCBIOS: (Please describe your current/past involvement with MCBIOS)
I have been actively involved with the MCBIOS since its inception and served on the MCBIOS board two times previously. I have also been program co-chair for MCBIOS 2015, 2016 and 2017 annual meeting. I have attended all the annual meetings and have extensive understanding of MCBIOS operations and planning. Also was involved in establishing connection with Society of Toxicology and International Society of Computational Biology etc.

If elected, how do you plan to contribute to MCBIOS as a future leader:
I am with MCBIOS since its inception some 15 years ago. I have attended almost every annual society conferences and witnessed its growing impact to the scientific community in the mid-south region. The past success of the society validates its objectives and also exhibits its potential in the national and international space. Thus, my effort will be twofold:
1.    Further development of the society by (a) enhancing the connections and communication with these states/universities that have played active roles in the past, (b) reaching out to these states/universities that have not involved in the society; and (c) bringing the society beyond the mid-south region
2.    Devoting more effort to the program that is focused on career development of young scientists and enhancing the platform for networking with senior professionals in this field.

Candidate for Board Member

Robert J. Doerksen, Ph.D, Associate Dean, Graduate School, University of Mississippi, Associate Professor of Medicinal Chemistry, Department of BioMolecular Sciences, Research Associate Professor, Research Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Mississippi, MS, USA 38677-1848
Bio:
After obtaining a PhD at the University of New Brunswick, Fredericton, and postdoctoral fellowships at University of California, Berkeley, and University of Pennsylvania, since 2004, I have been at the School of Pharmacy at the University of Mississippi in Oxford, MS, USA, first as an assistant professor in the Department of Medicinal Chemistry and currently as an associate professor of medicinal chemistry in the Department of BioMolecular Sciences. I am also a research associate professor in the Research Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Mississippi (UM). I was named a Distinguished Teaching Scholar and won Faculty Service Award twice, plus the Faculty Instructional Innovation Award from UM School of Pharmacy. In 2017, I was appointed as Associate Dean of the Graduate School.
My research specialty is computational medicinal chemistry, which includes computational studies on the properties of small molecules and of proteins; calculations on the interactions of proteins with small molecules or other proteins; and systematic analysis of large quantities of data with chemical and biological relevance. My research has focused on protein kinases and on small molecules and protein targets of relevance to a variety of human diseases such as malaria, hepatitis B, ischemia, cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease. I have an h-index of 24 and my research has been cited more than 4000 times. I have mentored 7 PhD students to graduation, 8 postdoctoral fellows, and >30 undergraduate research students, and have served on nearly 40 PhD committees at University of Mississippi (UM). I am a member of UM’s recently organized Big Data Research Constellation. I have current funding from NIH, NSF and an anti-infectious diseases organization (MAD-ID).
I have co-organized symposia at the National Meetings of both the American Chemical Society (ACS) and the Canadian Society for Chemistry. I served as Session Chair on two occasions for American Chemical Society National Meetings (Division on Computers in Chemistry). I am a current member of the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) Council of Sections Task Force for National Meeting Student Poster Competition Program, which is introducing a new student poster competition for the 2018 Annual Meeting. I have served as an AACP National Meeting Mentor. I am a regular participant in a regional meeting on medicinal chemistry (MALTO) and often have served as competition judge for that annual conference. I also have many years of experience as a Science Fair judge, including having served as an Intel International Science & Engineering Fair Grand Judge.
I am on the editorial board of three journals. I have served as a peer reviewer for more than 60 journals, including for the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA and PLOS Computational Biology. I have served as a peer reviewer for funding proposals submitted to NIH, NSF, DOD, and NSERC (Canada). I have served as an external examiner for 8 PhD dissertations and ~5 Master’s theses from India and Taiwan.

Experience and contribution to MCBIOS: (Please describe your current/past involvement with MCBIOS)
I have participated in 5 MCBIOS annual meetings, starting in 2011. Included in that, I served as an invited speaker, and as a judge of oral and poster presentations, and my research group members have won a postdoctoral fellow award and a PhD student award. We have made research presentations at the meetings, and I am co-author of 3 papers published in the conference proceedings in BMC Bioinformatics.

If elected, how do you plan to contribute to MCBIOS as a future leader:
The fields of computational biology and bioinformatics continue to grow. Because of my diverse research, mentoring and collaboration experience, I am able to help bridge the gaps between fields and between different kinds of scientists—those who work on new approaches and those who apply the approaches to solve practical science problems.
I am eager to help with all matters for MCBIOS, such as with selection of topics and speakers, editorial work for the conference proceedings, judging for the student presentations, and promotion of the conference.

Candidate for Board Member

Jake Y. Chen, Ph.D., Associate Institute Director, Chief Bioinformatics Officer, Professor of Genetics and Computer Science, University of Birmingham, Alabama

Bio:
Jake Y. Chen, Ph.D., is the Chief Bioinformatics Officer and Associate Director of the Informatics Institute, Chief of the Informatics Section of the Genetics Department, and Professor of Genetics and Computer Science of the University of Alabama at Birmingham.  He holds a BS degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from Peking University of China and MS/PhD degrees in Computer Science and Engineering from the University of Minnesota at Twin Cities.
In the past two decades, Dr. Chen has been studying “translational bioinformatics”—the science of collecting, representing, storing, retrieving and processing data and knowledge for the improvement of human health. His research interest focus on systems biology, data mining, advanced visual analytics for therapeutic discovery and clinical decision-making applications. He has published more than 130 peer-reviewed scientific papers and edited two bioinformatics books, “Biological Database Modeling” and “Biological Data Mining”. He has organized many Biocomputing conferences, among which the BIOKDD workshop at the Annual ACM Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining Conference have been running consecutively for nearly two decades. He is a frequent grant review panelist for NIH, NSF, and DOD in bioinformatics. He was named a MIRA Award finalist as “Indiana’s Technology Educator of the Year” for his contribution to informatics research, education, and entrepreneurship in the state of Indiana.
Prior to joining UAB, Dr. Chen was the founding director of the Indiana Center for Systems Biology and Personalized Medicine at Indiana University, a tenured bioinformatics faculty at the Indiana University School of Informatics, and a tenured faculty of computer science at Purdue University Department of Computer and Information Science at IUPUI. Through his international collaboration efforts since 2012, he also led to create the Center for Biomedical Big Data and Applications at the First Affiliated Hospital of Wenzhou Medical University—recognized among the best IT-intensive large hospitals in China.

Experience and contribution to MCBIOS: (Please describe your current/past involvement with MCBIOS)
I am the local conference chair for the upcoming MCBIOS 2019 / ATTIS 2019 (Annual Translational and Transformative Informatics Symposium). For the past ten years, I have contributed annually abstracts, presentations, and peer-reviewed conference proceeding papers to MCBIOS. I have sent many of my trainees to this meeting.

If elected, how do you plan to contribute to MCBIOS as a future leader:
I will first and foremost make sure to plan for a successful MCBIOS 2019 meeting. I will help bridge the communications between MCBIOS and SouthEast Informatics Consortium, which is an alliance among CTSI partners of the Southeastern USA regions.