Lab Matters Fall 2018 | Page 29

INFECTIOUS DISEASES APHL-CDC Bioinformatics Fellowship Builds Lab Capacity, Launches Careers By Christin Hanigan, PhD, senior specialist, Advanced Molecular Detection As state public health laboratories (PHLs) have implemented next generation sequencing (NGS), one of the biggest challenges remains building bioinformatics expertise. Finding and attracting bioinformaticians to PHLs has not been easy. The APHL-CDC Bioinformatics Fellowship has become a great way for young bioinformaticians to learn how to apply their skill set to infectious diseases in PHLs. Each fellow has come with different education and experience. In two cases, the fellowship provided the fellow’s first introduction to PHL careers. As a group, the fellows remain deeply committed to public health, and engaged in applying complex bioinformatics analytics to solve public health problems. They continue to make an impact beyond their labs, serving as Advanced Molecular Detection Bioinformatics resources for their regions. Collectively they provide technical assistance, analysis and training to PHLs around the country. Applications for the 2019-2020 APHL-CDC Bioinformatics fellow class for both fellows and host laboratories are open until February 28, 2019. @APHL Logan Fink, MS Comparative and Molecular Bioscience, University of Minnesota, 2016 Biological and Medical Informatics, San Diego State University, 2017 Fellowship: Minnesota Department of Health Public Health Laboratory Current Position: Supervisor, Sequencing and Bioinformatics Since its inception in 2013, 29 APHL-CDC Bioinformatics Fellows have completed their placements. In 2016, the first fellow was placed in a state PHL. Five additional fellows have followed at state PHL placements. Three are currently completing their fellowships, and three alumni have remained at their host laboratory as staff members. Their accomplishments have been instrumental in building bioinformatics infrastructure and increasing capacity for in-house analysis. PublicHealthLabs Xiong (Sean) Wang, PhD The first bioinformatics fellow to be placed at a state PHL, Sean built Minnesota’s bioinformatics infrastructure and increased its analytical capacity. He came to the fellowship with the goal of learning more about PHLs and infectious diseases, and took advantage of professional development opportunities to expand his knowledge. Kevin Libuit, MS Fellowship: Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment Laboratory Services Division Current Position: Bioinformatician Logan is passionate about developing the bioinformatics infrastructure in Colorado and helping other PHLs increase their bioinformatics analysis capacity. He came to the fellowship with an interest in employing his bioinformatics skills to curb infectious disease worldwide and has benefited from networking with national and international public health bioinformaticians who have been instrumental in shaping his commitment to public health. n Biology, James Madison University, 2017 Fellowship: Virginia Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services (DCLS) Current Position: Senior Informatics Scientist Under the mentorship of Dr. Lauren Turner, Kevin was instrumental in building the bioinformatics infrastructure from the ground up at DCLS and establishing the laboratory as a nationally- recognized regional resource for bioinformatics. Kevin completed his master’s degree at James Madison University and began working at DCLS under the Governor’s Data Internship Program, a part of Governor McAuliffe’s initiative to integrate data sciences into government work around the Commonwealth. DCLS was chosen to host an intern to help develop bioinformatics capabilities for foodborne pathogen surveillance. The reason I stayed is that the work is both satisfying and gratifying. I feel like I’m getting to use my knowledge and my position to make an impactful and meaningful difference in people’s lives by preventing illness and fighting the spread of disease through modern surveillance and computational techniques.” Logan Fink Fall 2018 LAB MATTERS 27