Peter Good, Ph.D., program director for bioinformatics and computational biology, describes himself as a "biologist who understands computers," though he's quick to point out that he has never actually programmed a computer.
Bioinformatics is the relatively new field of science combining biology and computer science that is concerned with the acquisition, storage, analysis and dissemination of biological data such as DNA and amino acid sequences. "Bioinformatics and robust databases enable the research community to take full advantage of the massive amounts of sequencing and functional data that are now available," he said.
Bioinformatics has changed tremendously since 2001, when Dr. Good joined NHGRI as its extramural program director in genome informatics. At the time, databases were expensive to build and difficult to manage. Under Dr. Good's leadership, NHGRI decided to improve databases by funding development of the generic model organism database (GMOD), a collection of open-source modules that developers could use to create and manage genome-scale databases. Dr. Good also oversaw development of UniProt, a database of protein sequence and functional information derived from genome sequencing projects.
Dr. Good has guided development of bioinformatics and technology development in other NHGRI projects, including The Cancer Genome Atlas, the Knockout Mouse Project, the ENCyclopedia Of DNA Elements Project and modENCODE, for human and model organism genomes, respectively,
"No one could have anticipated the fall in the cost of sequencing a person's genome from $10 million a decade ago to about $7,000 now," said Dr. Good, noting that full genome sequencing provides raw data on all six billion letters in an individual's DNA. "As sequencing costs continue to drop, we've got to push bioinformatics. This is what's going to move genomic sequence information into the clinic where health professionals can use it to help patients," he said.
Prior to his work at NHGRI, Dr. Good was an assistant professor at the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center-Shreveport studying the role of RNA-binding proteins in early vertebrate development. Dr. Good was a post-doctoral fellow at NIH working with Dr. Igor Dawid on identifying genes involved in regulating early vertebrate development.
Dr. Good received his undergraduate degree in biology from Iowa State University. He received his Ph.D. in molecular biology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1987, studying molecular virology in the laboratory of Dr. Janet Mertz.
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Last Updated: April 30, 2014