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Award-Winning Computational Biologist to Speak
Kentucky Ag Connection - 03/20/2019

Daniel A. Jacobson, chief scientist for computational systems biology at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, will speak on the University of Kentucky campus at 1:30 p.m. March 28. The free seminar is open to the public and should interest anyone who works or studies in the fields of biology or computer science.

Jacobson is a computational biologist who led a seven-member ORNL team that employed supercomputers as a tool to combat the opioid epidemic, for which they won the prestigious Gordon Bell Prize from the Association for Computing Machinery. The award recognizes outstanding achievement in high-performance computing. Using the Million Veterans Program dataset, which includes 750,000 human genome types and more than a billion medical records accumulated over a 20-year period, Jacobson's team used supercomputing to identify the underlying genetic architecture of how individuals develop chronic pain and respond to opioids.

"When you're dealing with these immense datasets, the only way to be able to compile and interpret them is through the use of supercomputers," said Kirtley Amos, a doctoral student in the College of Agriculture, Food and Environment who was responsible for inviting Jacobson to UK.

Jacobson's talk will focus on embracing complexity in biological systems.

"If you're interested in computers or anything within the many facets of the biology field, including plant sciences, medicine, biotech engineering, etc., Dr. Jacobson's talk is guaranteed to be fascinating," Amos said.

Sponsored by the UK departments of Horticulture and Biology, the seminar will take place in the Cameron Williams Lecture Hall, 101 Plant Science Building.

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