Mr. Tinyi Chu

Ph.D. Candidate, Computational Biology

Dr. Maria Daversa and Mr. David Gulley established the Daversa Family Scholarship Fund in 2008 with the goal of providing financial assistance to undergraduate or graduate trainees involved in research at the Baker Institute. This year’s recipient Mr. Tinyi Chu, a graduate student in Charles Danko’s lab, started at the Institute in 2014 as a computational biology student. Chu found the interdisciplinary collaborations that exist at the Institute to be the perfect fit for him.

“When I applied for the award, I was analyzing the transcriptional changes in glioblastoma, an extremely devastating brain cancer. A good treatment doesn’t currently exist and patients usually die within a year and a half of being diagnosed. I was focusing on the mechanism of these oncogenic changes and the dynamics of evolution across time,” explains Chu.

Currently, Chu is working in the field of computational and systems biology. He is particularly interested in developing bioinformatic tools and addressing biological questions combining state of the art machine learning and statistical learning algorithms. “I lead the development of bioinformatic tools for analyzing PRO-seq, which ultimately amounts to mapping cancer-specific transcriptional network rewiring.”

Seeing how afflictive cancer is, including within his own family, Chu has decided to focus on cancer biology in the future. “I would like to apply my background in statistics and computer science to study cancer biology in a genome-wide approach using high-throughput sequencing technologies.” This technology is capable of sequencing multiple DNA molecules in parallel, allowing for hundreds of millions of DNA molecules to be sequenced at one time.

Chu has used some of his award money to travel to research institutes in Hong Kong, where he was invited to speak about his research projects. In doing so, he was able to discuss his research with various professors and found many exciting ideas for new applications for his work. “I also used some of the funds to present my work at the prestigious Cold Spring Harbor Asia conference this fall, where my poster on experimental and computational technology won the first prize fellowship. I am so grateful for the unique opportunities I’ve been given as a result of this award.”