Michael Chimenti, PhD.  Director of Bioinformatics

Michael is the Director of the IIHG Bioinformatics Division.  He is focused on staying current with developments in bioinformatics and computational biology to anticipate and respond to the changing analysis needs of the University of Iowa research community.  He leads a research staff of 4 people, including a full-time systems administrator that helps to coordinate the substantial genomics compute infrastructure of the IIHG. 

Michael is a research scientist with many years of broad experience in the fields of bioinformatics, computational chemistry, and structural biology.  He earned his B.S. in biochemistry from the University of Iowa in 2003. Next, he went to the Johns Hopkins University and earned a PhD studying protein structure/function and electrostatics with Bertrand Garcia-Moreno.  He then did a postdoc at UCSF with Matt Jacobson and Mark Kelly in computational chemistry and drug discovery. 

In 2015, Michael joined the IIHG as a research scientist. His research interests include integrated analysis of *-seq experiments, machine-learning in bioinformatics, and pipeline design. Michael lives in Iowa City with his wife and two children.  He enjoys cycling and playing saxophone.

Email: michael-chimenti@uiowa.edu 
Phone: (319) 335-6717

Henry Keen, PhD.  Assistant Research Scientist.

Henry is an Assistant Research Scientist with the Bioinformatics Division of the Iowa Institute of Human Genetics (IIHG). His areas of expertise include analysis of RNA Sequencing data, R programming, genomics, and physiology. He has a diverse background in engineering, computer science, bioinformatics, physiology and genomics. He received a B.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering in 1992 from Mississippi State University and a Ph.D. in Physiology and Biophysics from the University of Mississippi Medical Center in 1997. In 2018, he joined the Bioinformatics division of the IIHG and has worked on multiple diverse projects and has collaborated with investigators both on and off campus.

After initially training as a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Iowa in molecular biology, genetics, and generation of transgenic mice, he then decided to use his computational skills to address fundamental biological questions by using high throughput technologies and by integrating publicly available datasets. Since joining the staff at the University of Iowa as an Assistant Research Scientist in the laboratory of Curt D. Sigmund, Ph.D., he has been active in the bioinformatics community on campus and has been an author or co-author on manuscripts published in high-impact journals including Cell Metabolism, Hypertension, and Circulation Research.

Email: henry-keen@uiowa.edu

Diana Kolbe, PhD.  Associate Research Scientist

Diana is an Associate Research Scientist with the IIHG Bioinformatics Division. Her areas of expertise are clinical sequence analysis and pipeline development.  Diana received both a B.S. in Biochemistry & Molecular Biology and a B.S in Computer Engineering from Penn State University in 2003. While there, she worked with Dr. Webb Miller and Dr. Ross Harrison on early statistical models of regulatory sequence based on multiple genome alignment. From there, she pursued a Ph.D. in Computational Biology at Washington University in St. Louis, studying with Dr. Sean Eddy. Both in St. Louis and later at the HHMI Janelia Farm campus, Diana worked on algorithm design and implementation for the profile stochastic context-free grammars (SCFGs) used to model non-coding RNAs and their secondary structures. She wrote high-performance code for match detection and alignment using high-parallel vector processing. After earning her Ph.D. in 2010, Diana spent two years as a postdoctoral researcher at the National Human Genome Research Institute with Dr. Laura Elnitski. There she started working with clinical data, looking at methylation micro-arrays of uterine and ovarian cancers.

Diana joined the University of Iowa and the newly formed Bioinformatics Division in 2012. She has worked on a variety of project types, including expression analysis by either micro-array or RNA-seq, but has primarily concentrated on mutational analysis of human clinical sequencing. Projects have included familial exome analysis for rare diseases, patient sequencing for kidney diseases and hearing loss—each of which is genetically heterogeneous—and predictive analysis of drug metabolism to customize drug prescription and dosage. Through this work, she also has experience in clinical pipeline reporting and documentation for regulatory compliance.

Diana also maintains an appointment with the Molecular Otolaryngology and Renal Research Laboratory (MORL).

Email: diana-kolbe@uiowa.edu

Jason Ratcliff, M.S.  Research Assistant

Jason is a Research Assistant with the IIHG Bioinformatics Division.  His relevant areas of experience include R programming, reproducible computational research, data processing and visualization, statistical analysis, and Git version control.  He graduated from the University of Northern Iowa in 2013 with a B.S. in Biology.  He continued on with graduate work at UNI utilizing molecular phylogenetic and GIS approaches to address taxonomic questions in a non-model genus of Brassicaceae.  In 2015, he started as a Research Assistant at the University of Iowa with the Department of Internal Medicine in the lab of Dr. Sailesh Harwani.  His group works to investigate the molecular mechanisms driving cholinergic-mediated inflammation in a genetic model of hypertension.  There, Jason conducted immunological assays including western blots, ELISA, and flow cytometry to quantify tissue and cellular protein expression in the context of nicotine-induced hypertension.
In 2017, he joined the IIHG Clinical Division to support clinical NGS testing pipelines for diagnosing genetic diseases and quick-turnaround genotyping.  He also worked closely with the IIHG Genomics Division operating liquid handling robots to prepare NGS libraries for whole exome sequencing.  His current projects include the implementation of an orthogonal genotyping assay to verify NGS sample identity which has involved software development with R.  Additionally, he is working to invesigate the accuracy of NGS sequencing in PKD1 relative to homologous pseudogenes.  He is also currently serving as a Teaching Assistant for a course in the Department of Biochemistry addressing practical data skills and bioinformatic analyses.  There, he has developed content for lectures and coding exercises with an emphasis on reproducible research.

Email: jason-ratcliff@uiowa.edu

Past student interns: 

Ryan Reis, M3G

Chloe Beck, Genetics graduate student, Darbro Lab at University of Iowa

Yeting Li, Genetics and Comp Bio graduate program at Boston University 

Makayla Dove, Computational Biology undergraduate (Senior), Iowa State University