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Michael Skinnider receives this year's Data Science Award

Michael is in the combined MD/PhD program, working in the laboratory of Dr. Leonard J. Foster, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Life Sciences Centre, where he develops bioinformatic methods to interrogate the protein-protein interactome. Michael and a fellow MD/PhD student have led an independent project integrating results from small scale literature experiments with several transcriptomic and other ‘omic studies’ of spinal cord injury (SCI) to characterize the pathophysiological response to SCI at a systems level. In addition, they integrated this systems level view with gene expression data from thousands of known drugs, and found that a known antibiotic reversed the patterns of gene expression characteristic of SCI.  Michael is a key member of several UBC groups filing a provisional patent on this indication for the drug. He has submitted a manuscript describing this work where he is the corresponding author: the ideas and implementation behind the whole story were his. The progression of this project from meta-analysis to a potential treatment for SCI highlights Michael’s ability to apply data science techniques to problems directly relevant to his interest in improving treatments for human disease. 

In addition to this particular achievement, when he started his MD/PhD, Micheal had four first-authored publications from his undergraduate work in top journals: PNAS, Nucleic Acids Research, Nature Communications, and ChemBioChem. Michael’s research output has accelerated from the unbelievable pace he set in his undergraduate studies. He has 18 papers to his name after the first two years of his program. He is the first or co-first author on 11 of his 18 papers, including two more in top-tier journals (second ones in PNAS and in NAR).

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March 15, 2018