Dirk RepsilberTitle: Professor School/office: School of Medical Sciences
Phone: +46 19 301256
About Dirk Repsilber
As professor in Functional Bioinformatics my mission is to run both research and teaching activity in Functional Bioinformatics, as truly integrated multi-disciplinary venture at Örebro University. As of 2017, we are involved in projects of medical, biomedical, biological and chemical research, as well as in methods development regarding the core bioinformatics field.
I started to get interested in genetic regulatory networks' architecture and function as part of my PhD thesis which I finished in 1999 at the University of Hamburg, Germany. In the year 2000 I started as PostDoc both at Uppsala University, Department of Molecular Evolution, and at SLU, Uppsala, Institute for Biometry and Statistics. Working on reverse engineering of genetic networks I came in touch with the first microarray gene expression studies and began to develop towards functional bioinformatics. Back in Germany, in 2003, at the Institute for Medical Statistics and Biometry of the University at Lübeck, I became involved in analyzing molecular profiles as part of clinical studies, as well as in biostatistics counseling. Later, at the Chair of Bioinformatics of the Institute for Biochemistry and Biology, University of Potsdam, multivariate statistical analysis approaches and statistical learning were in focus and how these methods could be further developed towards allowing integrative analyses (profile and phenome data from different sources). In 2007, I started as head of a working group for Biomathematics and Bioinformatics at the Leibniz Institute for Farm Animal Biology, FBN-Dummerstorf. Analysis of pooled profile data, as well as profile data from heterogeneous tissues was in focus of my methodological work for several years, extended by statistical modeling of random effects, to analyze genome-wide SNP-data in animal populations of known kinship structure. Now – being back to functional bioinformatics for medical research, my vision is to offer research both for integrative bioinformatics data analysis as well as for methods development, teaching at all levels with a truly cross-disciplinary approach, as well as cross-disciplinary supervision on Master, PhD, and PostDoc levels.
Biosignature screening on both data analysis level and methods developing level is my core interest. Cooperations with clinical medicine and biomedicine define the basis in terms of specific problems and datasets, while together with biostatisticians and biomathematicians I am interested in building and extending methods capable to use functional network a priori knowledge, and, vice versa, to use biosignature candidate results to learn more about regulatory structures of the underlying biomedical system. The link between molecular features as good biosignature building blocks and their mechanistical, functional relation to the clinical phenomenon is not a simple one-to-one mapping. Both different levels of biological organisation and network structures on the diverse molecular levels play decisive roles. The art of tailor-made modeling together with data handling, interpretation of results, and related biostatistical consultation is my profession.
These research objectives imply a strong cross-disciplinary commitment, and I feel dedicated to combine approaches and work tightly together with researchers from the fields of medicine and molecular biology, statistics, computer science, physics and mathematics, all feeding into rewarding developments for functional bioinformatics investigations. Taking the integrative, functional bioinformatics perspective, it has always been the systems scale which was my main field of interest and scientific work: elucidating structure and function of the genotype-phenotype map, in health and disease.
Education and supervision
The nature of my research focus involves special needs for cross-disciplinary communication skills, to understand and be understood by molecular biologists, medical doctors, geneticists, computer scientists, mathematicians, statisticians and theoretical physicists. My experiences include teaching among others medical doctors, biologists, and computer scientists, also frequently together in interdisciplinary courses, both at all academic levels and outside universities. The experiences from a wide variety of courses, are complemented with my experiences as supervisor for several PhD students who were originally educated in different fields. In addition, I was able to educate my communication qualities as leader of junior research groups, and later as Head of Unit for Biomathematics and Bioinformatics, as well as managing the collaborations with senior scientists both within my group, within Germany and Sweden, and within my international network of research co-operations. I take a problem-based teaching approach in functional bioinformatics which in my experience has proven to be eligible to achieve a motivation basis for deep learning, especially in courses with students from different scientific fields, fostering trans-disciplinary understanding and communication. I established a Statistical Bioinformatics Counseling activity as an infrastructure for knowledge transfer as well as for establishing future co-operations, within Örebro University and outside.