Is Baltimore About To Turn Into A Bioinformatics Hub?
Local scientists believe Baltimore is ideally placed to become a leading bioinformatics epicenter.
What are the first things that come to mind when we think about Baltimore? The Wire? Rioting? Ray Lewis? Soon you might be able to add ‘Bioinformatics’ to that list.
Bioinformatics is quickly turning into a billion-dollar industry. There are some in the area, who believe Baltimore is ideally placed to flourish into one of its main hubs.
“Baltimore contains all the elements of a perfect storm for bioinformatics leadership,” said Dr. Owen White, Associate Director of Informatics at the Institute for Genome Sciences (IGS) at the University of Maryland School Of Medicine. “With our close ties to tech-savvy government agencies like the NIH, NIA and NSA, local tech firms shifting their focus to health IT, and computer science programs at Johns Hopkins, UMB, UMBC and the University of Maryland at College Park, Baltimore has a chance to lead the world in bioinformatics.”
Insilico Medicine are one company hoping to prove Dr. White correct. Led by Dr. Alex Zhavoronkov, Insilico applies computer science to combat ageing and age-related diseases, including cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. Dr. Zhavoronkov believes that bioinformatics could have a big enough impact in this area to increase the human lifespan all the way up to, an astonishing,150 years.
“North America is dominating the global bioinformatics market,” said Zhavoronkov. “But no US city has yet to emerge as a central hub of bioinformatics talent and research. When huge medical breakthroughs are announced in the next few years as a result of big data computer analysis, I want those announcements to come from Baltimore.”
“There are thousands of talented computer scientists graduating from college over the next few weeks who want to do more with their careers than work at an internet startup,” continued Zhavoronkov. “In the bioinformatics industry, we’re fighting to end cancer and extend the human lifespan to at least 150 years. This is a very exciting field!”
Dr Zhavoronkov is currently looking to recruit and grow his company, presenting his vision at the Maryland Incubator Company of the Year Competition in early June. If successful, hopefully it won’t be too long before we see Baltimore in the news again with more positive stories.