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University of Maryland School of Medicine Professor Receives Benjamin Franklin Award for Open Access in the Life Sciences

April 16, 2015

Owen White, PhD

Researcher Has Improved Information Delivery in Bioinformatics

Owen White, PhD, Professor of Epidemiology and Public Health and Associate Director of Informatics at the Institute for Genome Sciences (IGS) at the University of Maryland School of Medicine as well as Co-Director of the UM Center for Health-related Informatics and Bioimaging (CHIB), has been selected to receive the Benjamin Franklin Award for Open Access in the Life Sciences from, also known as the Bioinformatics Organization.

White has been dedicated to open source/open access throughout his scientific career. As a Principal Investigator with the Human Microbiome Project Data Analysis and Coordination Center (HMP DACC), he led the multi-year, multi-institutional aggregation and organization of data for the HMP and other large-scale data informatics projects. White will receive the award and deliver a laureate presentation at the Bio-IT World Conference and Expo on April 22 in Boston. The Benjamin Franklin Award for Open Access in the Life Sciences is a humanitarian/bioethics award presented annually by to an individual who has promoted free and open access to the materials and methods used in the life sciences. Dr. White, the 14th recipient of the award, was selected from a pool of internationally recognized nominees.

“Dr. White’s leadership with health informatics has been valuable for our schools, encouraging analytical communications between our medical and engineering schools, and leading the integration of informatics into epidemiological research,” said Dean E. Albert Reece, MD, PhD, MBA, who is also the vice president for Medical Affairs, University of Maryland, and the John Z. and Akiko K. Bowers Distinguished Professor and Dean of the School of Medicine. “We are pleased that he received the prestigious Franklin Open Access Award, which is a recognition from his peers.”

“Dr. White has been committed to open access throughout his career, and has been dedicated to helping scientists and clinicians have facile access to large-scale sequencing data,” said Claire Fraser, PhD, Professor of Medicine at the UM SOM, as well as Director of IGS. “He is very deserving of this award.”

A key challenge presented by large-scale genome sequencing is the effective display of uniform information to the scientific community. In addition to his work with the HMP DACC, Dr. White has also developed several web resources such as the Comprehensive Microbial Resource and Pathema containing annotation from microbial genomes, Gemina, a web-based system designed to identity infectious pathogens, Sybil, a web-based open source software package for comparative genomics. Dr. White has developed automated annotation systems for bacterial, eukaryotic and microbiome organisms as well as several bioinformatic training programs.

Prior to his appointment at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, Dr. White was an early leader in the application of bioinformatics to the genomics field as one of the first analyst directors at The Institute for Genome Research (TIGR) in Rockville Maryland.

About the University of Maryland School of Medicine

The University of Maryland School of Medicine was chartered in 1807 and is the first public medical school in the United States and continues today as an innovative leader in accelerating innovation and discovery in medicine. The School of Medicine is the founding school of the University of Maryland and is an integral part of the 11-campus University System of Maryland. Located on the University of Maryland’s Baltimore campus, the School of Medicine works closely with the University of Maryland Medical Center and Medical System to provide a research-intensive, academic and clinically based education. With 43 academic departments, centers and institutes and a faculty of more than 3,000 physicians and research scientists plus more than $400 million in extramural funding, the School is regarded as one of the leading biomedical research institutions in the U.S. with top-tier faculty and programs in cancer, brain science, surgery and transplantation, trauma and emergency medicine, vaccine development and human genomics, among other centers of excellence. The School is not only concerned with the health of the citizens of Maryland and the nation, but also has a global presence, with research and treatment facilities in more than 35 countries around the world.

About the Institute for Genome Sciences

The Institute for Genome Sciences (IGS) is a research center within the University of Maryland School of Medicine. Comprised of an interdisciplinary team of investigators, the Institute uses the powerful tools of genomics and bioinformatics to understand genome function in health and disease, to study molecular and cellular networks in a variety of model systems, and to generate data and bioinformatics resources of value to the international scientific community.

About serves the scientific and educational needs of bioinformatics practitioners worldwide. The organization maintains computational resources to facilitate collaborat


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