The bioinformatics of personal genomes
When the first draft sequence of human DNA was determined in 2001, its cost was more than a billion dollars and fifteen years of international work. Ten years later, it is now becoming possible to have your personal DNA sequence in hand for only a thousand dollars. However, a sequence is only a mix of four letters and doesn't mean much unless you can unravel the underlying information and identify the most important pieces of your DNA. This information relates to genetic dispositions to diseases, what food to stay away from, what population you come from, and how you differ from everybody else. So far this is almost impossible to address in a comprehensive way. We are currently developing a framework for large-scale comparison of DNA features, but this utilizes only a reference human genome.
The task is to develop procedures and tools for comparing individual genomes against a reference genome, in order to expose the unique characteristics of the personal genome. The end-point would be to allow users to simply upload their personal DNA sequence and obtain a full report of the cricital aspects.
Students should be skilled in programming/software development and algorithms. No prior knowledge of biology is needed, but an interest for biology could be an advantage.