Deciphering the Genetic Code for Life

Posted on October 17, 2014

Thursday October 30, 2014, 2:00-3:00 PM
Kinesiology 100, 28 Division Street
Reception to follow in the Beamish-Munro Hall Atrium 

Brendan Frey

Brendan Frey
Canada Research Chair in Biological Computation
University of Toronto
Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering,
and Banting and Best Department of Medical Research 

Abstract:  The digital code that controls the biochemistry of life is embedded within a sequence of DNA letters called a genome. Scientists understand the code embedded in the ten-thousand-letter HIV genome and can successfully modify the code embedded in a one-million-letter bacterial genome. However, we are only beginning to understand the human code, which resides in a three-billion-letter genome and is used to generate trillions of cells whose different roles are necessary for normal body development and function. I will describe recent discoveries made by my colleagues and I that shed light on how the human code works, how it is used to generate increased complexity, and how it differs from other species, such as chimpanzees. I will also describe how the human code can be used to develop new ways for detecting and treating human diseases.

Biography: Dr. Frey is a Professor at the University of Toronto with appointments in Engineering and Medicine. He conducts research in the areas of computational genome biology and machine learning. Dr. Frey is a Fellow of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers and the American Institute for the Advancement of Science. He has received several distinctions, including the John C Polanyi Award, the EWR Steacie Fellowship, and Canada's Top 40 Leaders Under 40 Award. Dr. Frey has consulted for several industrial research and development laboratories in Canada, the United States and England, and he is currently on the Technical Advisory Board of Microsoft Research India. His former students and postdoctoral fellows include professors, industrial researchers and developers at highly recognized centers in Canada, the United States and Europe. In addition to studying in Canada, Dr. Frey has spent several years studying abroad, including at the University of Cambridge, England and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA.