In this week’s installment of Musings, I’d like to introduce you to Xiaofang Jiang, PhD, who recently joined NLM’s Intramural Research Program as a tenure-track investigator.
Dr. Jiang’s research focuses on the development of computational methods to advance our understanding of the human microbiome, which plays a very important role in our health. Her lab is using bioinformatic methods to predict what the trillions of microbes living in and on the human body do, how they spread between people, and which kinds of genes the microbiome community shares.
Turning data on the human microbiome into usable insights is a challenge that demands both knowledge of the biological literature and skill in bioinformatics. Dr. Jiang’s lab is developing approaches intended to do just that — bridge the gap between information and action.
We are fortunate to have added another strong and curious investigator to our team. I know Dr. Jiang will play an important role in accelerating data-driven discovery here at NLM!
Video Transcript (below)
I’ve had a long interest in physics and math ever since I was in middle school. But, I was discouraged to choose math or physics as major when I went to college. That’s because my family and friends thought that I would have a hard time finding a good job as a female based on what they saw, at that time, in China.
In the end, I chose Biology as my major, which opened a new door for me. It provides the foundation for my current research and led me to a beautiful world of evolution and life science.
For my Ph.D., I chose computational biology as my major because it is a major that combines my passion in computer science as well as biology.
For a long time, I observed that, for computer scientists, if they wanted to understand biomedical data they needed to have a good understanding of biology. For biologists, if they wanted to speed discovery, they required the help of computer scientists. And my background sort of bridges this gap.
I think we’re at a great stage where we can actually have the ability to turn data into actionable items that can be directly applied to medical decision-making. Data science and the microbiome combined to improve our heath.
NLM is one of the few places where I can start my research program in data science. There is a critical mass of truly exceptional and top-notch scientists here. And I also find people in NLM are approachable. From the Director to the top scientist, you can just knock on their door and talk with them, and they are always willing to help.
NLM is the place where I can do the research that I love and enjoy, and also make a difference at the same time.