Dr. Jesse Gillis

I’m excited to have just joined Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory this June as an Assistant Professor of Computational Genomics. While working on my undergraduate degree in Biophysics at the University of Toronto, I had the good fortune to meet Dr. Frances Skinner, who was my supervisor throughout my graduate training. Working under her supervision at UHN, I received an MSc in 2003 and a PhD in 2007 in Computational Neuroscience.

My graduate work involved close collaboration with the lab of Dr. Liang Zhang, also at UHN, and I think the valuable interaction between the two labs typifies one of the strengths of UHN, which is the possibility for collaboration. Productive collaboration requires not just a collegial atmosphere but a real investment in developing a joint perspective; otherwise, it’s just two separate but related pieces of work stitched together. I learned the most as a graduate student from hearing Frances and Liang discuss ways of bridging the computational-experimental divide. And in general, I always felt at UHN that there was a strong interest in integrating disparate ideas; something I particularly appreciated as a computationally inclined student. After my time at UHN, I was twice lucky, and joined the lab of Dr. Paul Pavlidis as a Postdoctoral Fellow where I had been until recently, working in computational biology with a focus on gene networks and neuropsychiatric disease (particularly schizophrenia). While there are research themes continuing from my time at UHN until now, I think the most important aspect during my time at UHN was gaining an appreciation of the degree to which research is a communal activity: collaboration, talks, lab meetings, conferences, poster sessions, etc, all play a critical role in keeping you pointed in the right direction in your field, and serve as the best source of inspiration for ongoing work. It’s nice to know UHN students and Postdoctoral Fellows will continue to enjoy a research environment that will engender the same appreciation in them.