Behavioural Genetics and Bioinformatics

The completions of the Human Genome Project, and more recently the International HapMap Project, have laid the ground for revolutionary developments in human and medical genetics in the 21st Century. Genomics is a key ingredient in the mission of the Faculty of Medicine of becoming the “Biomedical Capital of Asia”; genomic research in the University is spearheaded by the Genome Research Centre and further coordinated by the Strategic Research Theme on Genomics, Proteomics and Bioinformatics.

Current genomic technology is capable of characterizing genetic sequence variations and gene expression profiles at the whole genome level. Within the next decade, genomic technology is expected to progress even further, to enable whole-genome sequencing of large samples of subjects, as well as detailed assessment of gene regulation, differential splicing and epigenetic changes. Academics in the Faculty of Medicine are already conducting top-level research using the technology platforms provided by the Genome Research Centre. For example, the Area of Excellence Programme on Developmental Genomics and Skeletal Research has a large genomics component, and Faculty members have published a paper in Nature in 2005 (on the HapMap project) and two papers in Nature Genetics in 2006 (on the genetic susceptibility to SARS and on epigenetic changes in familial polyposis coli). The Faculty, the Genome Research Centre, and the SRT on Genomics, Proteomics and Bioinformatics have identified genome-wide association analysis as a strategic research area; a recent call for proposals resulted in 31 applications on diseases ranging from heart disease and cancers to mental disorders.

Bioinformatics and statistical genetics are closely related areas for strategic development within the field of genomics. While clinical and laboratory scientists are becoming increasingly more knowledgeable and skilled in the use of sophisticated bioinformatics and statistical tools, our ability to develop novel methodologies and to perform cutting-edge analyses requires a world-class research group in bioinformatics and statistical genetics.

Team Leaders:

Prof. Pak C Sham
Dr. Stacey Cherny
Dr. Li Miaoxin

Postdocs:

Dr. Amy Butler
Dr. Desmond Campbell
Dr. Johnny Kwan
Dr. Clara Tang

IT Officer:

Juilian YEUNG Ming Yiu