The NICHD Bioinformatics and Scientific Programming Core (BSPC) supports the intramural program with expertise in genomics, computational biology, algorithm design, software engineering, data integration, analysis, and visualization. We work closely with researchers to understand the underlying biology in order to provide the best possible analysis and insight. In doing so, we promote bioinformatics not solely as a support service, but as a critical component of biological research complementary to traditional laboratory and clinical research.
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We perform all manner of genomics, transciptomics, epigenomics, nuclear architecture analysis (RNA-seq, ChIP-seq, ATAC-seq, RIP-seq, Hi-C, Capture-C, etc), functional analysis (GO analysis, pathway analysis) and integration of all of these and more with custom Python and R code. Cutting-edge research means existing tools are not readily available, and we will learn emerging technology, methods, and algorithms as needed to support the ongoing research in NICHD.
Scientific software development
We can build custom software tools specific to a laboratory's research needs and train lab staff in its use, thereby allowing biologists to explore their own data more easily. We develop and maintain open source software packages to help NICHD and the bioinformatics community as a whole.
We can provide consultation in topics such as experimental design, feasibility, statistical power, resource optimization, and training.
We help researchers acquire the computational skills required to be productive in the post-genomic age of biology by facilitating access to training, including basic command-line use, software engineering principles, Python, R, and applied statistical concepts.
Structure and philosophy
The total bioinformatics capacity of the institute includes the central bioinformatics core, embedded bioinformaticians working with groups of labs, and talented research staff in each lab.The central core (currently located in Bldg 10 Rm 10D39; eventually Bldg 6A 1A16/17) consists of a handful of post-bacs and bioinformatics scientists and act as a clear, central point of contact for bioinformatics expertise for the institute.
The central BSPC coordinates with independent bioinformaticians embedded in labs across campus who are overseen by local PIs and immersed in the day-to-day lab activities to provide more directed support to researchers. Via regular joint meetings between the core and embedded staff, we can exchange information, methods, and lessons learned to facilitate individual projects and analyses. The central core also facilitates training of research staff in individual labs to grow bioinformatics support around the institute and to help train the next generation of scientists.
We recognize that understanding the underlying biology is critical for making good bioinformatics analysis decisions. We speak the "languages" of both biology and computer science and so can help facilitate collaborations between different disciplines.
Relationship to Molecular Genomics Core (MGC)
The BSPC works closely with the Molecular Genomics Core (MGC), which performs high-throughput sequencing for the institute, offers primary bioinformatics analysis (QC and mapping) on the generated data, and performs further analysis on a case-by-case basis. In contrast, the BSPC is exclusively a dry lab and helps with all bioinformatics analysis and scientific programming needs.
Relationship to existing Computer Services Support Core (CSSC)
NICHD's Scientific Information Officer oversees both the new Bioinformatics and Scientific Programming Core as well as the existing Computer Services Support Core. Historically some bioinformatics was handled through CSSC; those projects will be transitioned over to BSPC. CSSC continues to assist with biovisualization and media, clinical informatics support, and web application development. Where appropriate and as resources allow, CSSC will support BSPC in these areas of expertise.