BioVis – Design contest on RNA secondary structure visualization

When we compared the secondary structures of the non-coding RNA HAR1 between primate species and wanted to represent our results at Bia’s poster at the ISMB conference this year, we realized that it is quite challenging to find a good visualization that supports a comparison between structures. In a pub in Boston, Jan Aerts, Bia Walter, Henrike Indrischek, and I sketched this challenge on a napkin. Gratefully, Ryo Sakai and Eamonn Maguire developed our idea into the official design contest for the BioVis conference 2015 in Dublin. We are very excited to see what solutions the contestants will come up with.

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Sandra and Lisa finished their Master theses

Sandra and Lisa, both turned their projects into very interesting and well-conducted Masters theses. Sandra worked on the “Evolutionary comparison of KAP1 binding sites between humans and chimpanzees” and Lisa on the “Functional characterization of ZNF542 and ZEB2 in primates”. The results of both projects gave us new insights in functional differences between TF genes of humans and other primates.

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Our paper on the evolution of gene regulatory factors is accepted

Our review paper on “The role of gene regulatory factors in the evolutionary history of humans” is accepted for publication in a special issue on Human Evolution of the journal Current Opinion in Genetics & Development. In our manuscript we review how especially transcription factor and long non-coding RNA genes have changed during human evolution, comparing modern humans to other primates, to archaic humans, and comparing human populations. We provide examples of gene regulatory factors with signs of positive selection and speculate on their impact on shaping human phenotypes.

Congratulations, Alvaro, Bia, and Sabina to a wonderful paper!

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Received funding for our speciation research

The Volkswagen Foundation awarded us funding for our collaborative work on Chromosomal Speciation within their framework “Support for Europe”. In our project Genomic architecture of speciation: the role of chromosomal rearrangements” Rui Faria’s and our group will use Next Generation Sequencing data from primates and marine gastropodes to investigate the impact of rearrangements in accelerating genome-wide divergence during speciation under different geographic  scenarios  and across two very distinct taxonomic groups.

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Rohit won the Best Poster prize

Rohit won the prize for the best poster at the Next Generation Sequencing Conference (NGS) 2014 in Barcelona. His hand-drawn poster shows his work on the lacerta genome. Congrats to an awesome poster!

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Funding for lncRNA evolution project

We got our grant proposal on “Long Non-Coding RNAs in Primate Brain Evolution” awarded. It is funded within the framework of the SPP 1738 “Emerging Roles of Non-coding RNAs in Nervous System Development, Plasticity and Disease”.

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Sabina finished her Masters Thesis

Sabina finished her thesis on the “Role of random monoallelically expressed genes in the
development of Alzheimer’s disease”. Congratulations to an excellent thesis work!

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Programming for Evolutionary Biology 2014

Our school on Programming for Evolutionary Biology will take place again in Spring 2014! It’s the perfect opportunity to learn programming and the analysis of Next Generation Sequencing data in two and a half weeks. Check out our website. Applications will be accepted now until January 15th.

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Stefano’s talk at the SMBE meeting 2013

Stefano presented his work at the annual meeting of the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution in Chicago in July 2013. The title of his talk was “Evolution of a Co-expression Network Involved in Primate Brain Functions and Cognitive Abilities”.

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Interview for MDR-Info

Our Programming for Evolutionary Biology course sparked interest in the German news service. The radio station MDR-Info did an interview with me, which was broadcasted on April 3rd 2013. In the interview I describe the content and philosophy of the course and also talk a bit about how my research group uses bioinformatics to answer questions related to evolutionary biology.

The author of the interview “BiologenWorkshop in Leipzig” is Karsten Moebius, MDR-Info.

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