Ping Liang: Associate Professor; Canada Research Chair in Genomics and Bioinformatics; Department of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Mathematics and Science

Ping Liang: Associate Professor; Canada Research Chair in Genomics and Bioinformatics; Department of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Mathematics and Science

Research: understanding the mechanism of genetic diversity and its contribution to phenotype via bioinformatics and genomics approaches

Many newcomers to Niagara are excited to discover the region’s world-class wines. When Ping Liang arrived, he found the genetic makeup of grapevines just as captivating.

Liang joined Brock University from Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo to continue his interdisciplinary studies in the areas of human and plant genetics. His research as a Tier 2 Canada Research Chair could advance knowledge and technology of applications in medical genetics, forensic sciences and crop breeding, including the development of new genetic tests for human disease susceptibility or the breeding of new crop varieties, including grapes and soybeans.

Liang uses bioinformatics, which leverages computers to perform biological research by mining through the DNA and protein databases to study genomics, which is the study of the entire genetic makeup of a species or individual. This approach allows for biological discoveries by analyzing and modelling the huge amount of biological data generated using many high-throughput technologies.

Liang’s current research involves the use of hundreds of gigabytes of DNA sequence data that are being pumped out from many sequencing centres around the world. The astronomical amount of data can only be analyzed through computational approaches, for which Liang’s research group uses high-performance computing with thousands of nodes, hundreds of gigabytes of RAM and thousands of terabytes of storage space.

The Cairns Family Health and Bioscience Research Complex will provide Liang with additional lab space, allowing him to take on more students performing a wider variety of research projects. The laboratories will also be capable of being customized to meet a variety of research needs.