Erik Van Roey.

Erik Van Roey will be working in the CDC’s Parasite Reference Diagnostic Laboratories in Atlanta as a bioinformatics fellow.

Master’s Graduate Wins Prestigious Bioinformatics Fellowship at CDC

Published June 5, 2017

Erik Van Roey, a graduate of the master’s program in genetics, genomics and bioinformatics (GGB), has been awarded a bioinformatics fellowship to conduct research for a year at U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) laboratories in Atlanta.

Collaborating on Emerging Public Health Problems

Administered by the Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL), the APHL-CDC Bioinformatics Fellowship Program provides master’s and doctoral-level graduates with the opportunity to collaborate on a range of important and emerging public health problems.

Fellows work directly with CDC or APHL mentors. Van Roey will be working with Richard S. Bradbury, PhD, in the Parasite Reference Diagnostic Laboratories at the CDC.

“I will be working to help develop bioinformatic methods for identification of human parasites,” he says.

Trust, Encouragement from Adviser ‘Invaluable’

The Albany native was first introduced to the bioinformatics field while earning his Bachelor of Science degree in ecology and evolutionary biology from the University of Rochester.

He saw the GGB program at UB as the best way to gain the skills necessary to fully enter the field. It provided him the opportunity to learn common bioinformatics tools and methods in a practical setting during the program’s research component.

Working with Michael Buck, PhD, associate professor of biochemistry, Van Roey helped develop a method to rapidly compare large numbers of next-generation sequencing data sets.

“Dr. Buck has been a tremendous mentor to me. His door is always open and he encourages active problem solving in his students,” he says. “While he encourages you to think for yourself, he is also willing to aid and assist when needed.”

Van Roey says that when faced with a problem, Buck’s typical response is to bring a new idea to the problem and tell him: “I know you can do this, but I don’t know how.”

“The amount of trust and encouragement he has given me is invaluable,” he says.

Exposure to Diverse Fields Helps Shape Career Path

Buck says he has every expectation that Van Roey will be very successful in industry or academics.

“Erik is an excellent student who through the GGB training program and his independent master’s research project has become a full-scale bioinformatician,” he says.

Van Roey notes that the exposure to a large diversity of fields during his UB training helped him decide what he wants to focus on in the future — his long-term career goals are to stay within academia and research, concentrating in bioinformatics applications to disease and public health.

“The fellowship allows me to return to a public-health focused lab, like where my undergraduate research took place, but also makes use of the new skills I acquired at UB in the GGB program,” he says.