Dr. Thomas Ioerger collaborating on NIH funded project

Labs at Weill Cornell Medical College, University of Massachusetts Medical School, and Texas A&M University will be collaborating on an NIH funded project with an overall budget of $13M. The five year project,"Decoding the roles of critical genes of unknown function inM. tuberculosis," is led by Harvard Professor of Immunology and Infectious DiseasesEric Rubin.

Image of Thomas LoergerDr. Thomas R. Ioerger, associate professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at Texas A&M University, is one of the six professors participating in the research. Commenting on the project, Dr. Ioerger says that "M. tuberculosis is the causative agent of tuberculosis, which infects a large fraction of the population worldwide and continues to kill millions of people per year. The cellular function of only around half of the 4,000 genes in the M. tuberculosis genome are well understood.

"The overall goal of the project is to combine genetic, biochemical, and genomic methods to identify and characterize the functions of other genes in this pathogen.

"The biology labs will be constructing knock-outs and knock-downs of selected genes and characterizing their phenotypes. At Texas A&M, we are funded both to provide genome sequencing services and to develop bioinformatic algorithms and statistical methods for interpreting the data and inferring functions of genes. Next-generation sequencing is exploited in this project for several purposes, including identifying suppressor mutants in knock-out strains, determining gene expression profiles, and identifying gene interactions through transposon mutagnesis (conditional essentiality). Our role is to develop rigorous statistical tools and pattern-extraction methods for analyzing the sequencing data we collect and using it to help elucidate the metabolic or regulatory functions of the gene selected for study."

Dr. Ioerger graduated from The Pennsylvania State University in 1989, obtaining a B.S. with honors in Molecular and Cell Biology. He received an M.S. and Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, the latter in 1996. His primary research interests are in the areas of bioinformatics and machine learning.