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Tyra Wolfsberg, Ph.D.

Tyra Wolfsberg
Associate Director
Bioinformatics and Scientific Programming Core

A.B. Princeton University, 1988
Ph.D. University of California, San Francisco, 1995

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Selected Publications

Current Topics in Genome Analysis 2016

Online Research Resources Developed at NHGRI

As the associate director of NHGRI's Bioinformatics and Scientific Programming Core, Dr. Wolfsberg focuses on developing methodologies to integrate sequence, annotation, and experimentally generated data so that bench biologists can quickly and easily obtain and interpret results from their large-scale experiments. When feasible, her group develops generalized solutions that can be applied to a variety of projects.

Dr. Wolfsberg played a leadership role in annotating the Mnemiopsis leidyi genome, the first fully sequenced genome of a ctenophore species. A major focus of this effort was to predict the locations of protein-coding genes using various types of biological sequence data. Her group also implemented a Web-based genome browser to view the Mnemiopsis genome assembly, gene predictions, and other biologically relevant sequence data. The computational pipelines will be used to annotate additional genomes in the future, and her group has already begun efforts to use these methodologies in the context of the Hydractinia genome project. Her analysis of the Mnemiopsis genome helped to demonstrate that ctenophores, which possess complex cell types such as neurons and muscle cells, are our oldest animal relatives; she anticipates that the work on Hydractinia will impact our understanding of tissue regeneration, allorecognition, and stem cell biology.

Dr. Wolfsberg's group has also developed analysis pipelines to align experimentally generated sequences to a genome and then compare the positions of interest to the coordinates of features displayed in a genome browser, such as genes and transcription start sites. They originally developed these annotation programs to characterize DNAse I hypersensitive sites but later used this approach to characterize the sites at which different types of retroviruses integrate into mammalian genomes. This work has been used to assess the efficacy and safety of retroviruses used as vectors in gene therapy studies. More recently, her group has expanded the pipeline so it can process thousand of sequences at once (using so-called "next-generation" sequence data). One application of this enhancement has been to map retroviral integrations that are being used to inactivate every gene in the zebrafish genome, with the eventual goal of characterizing the resulting phenotypes.


Dr. Wolfsberg is the associate director of NHGRI's Bioinformatics and Scientific Programming Core. She is also an associate investigator in the Computational and Statistical Genomics Branch. Her research program focuses on developing methodologies to integrate sequence, annotation, and experimentally generated data so that bench biologists can quickly and easily obtain results for their large-scale experiments. She has collaborated with NHGRI investigators on a variety of projects, from genomic characterizations of DNAse I hypersensitive sites and retroviral integration sites to the annotation of the genome of the ctenophore Mnemiopsis leidyi.

Dr. Wolfsberg received her A.B. in molecular biology from Princeton University, followed by a Ph.D. in biochemistry and biophysics from the University of California, San Francisco. Dr. Wolfsberg made her transition to computationally based research by performing her postdoctoral fellowship at the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) at NIH. She worked as a staff scientist at NCBI before joining the NHGRI faculty in 2000.

Dr. Wolfsberg maintains a longstanding commitment to bioinformatics education and outreach. She is the co-chair the NIH lecture series Current Topics in Genome Analysis. The lectures, through their availability online, have reached over half a million viewers to date. She teaches in several bioinformatics courses offered to NHGRI staff and serves as a faculty member in bioinformatics at the annual AACR Workshop Molecular Biology in Clinical Oncology. In addition, she has authored a chapter on genomic databases for two editions of the textbook Bioinformatics: A Practical Guide to the Analysis of Genes and Proteins, and a chapter on the NCBI MapViewer for Current Protocols in Bioinformatics and Current Protocols in Human Genetics. 

Dr. Wolfsberg has also served as a member of the Wellcome Trust-NIH Ph.D. Studentship Programme Advisory Committee (part of NIH's Graduate Partnerships Program), and is currently a member of the Wellcome Trust Ph.D. Programme Competition Committee, which evaluates doctoral programs funded by the Trust.

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Last Updated: November 15, 2016