Cory Brouwer, PhD, director of the UNC Charlotte Bioinformatics Research Services Division at the NC Research Campus (NCRC), directs projects involving complex biological computations and the management of immense data sets. This fall, he has simple addition at the forefront of his mind.
In October, all of the details should be squared away to start a 1,200-square-foot addition of his team’s 3,000-square-foot office space on the third floor of the David H. Murdock Core Laboratory building. “We’re looking to expand and add space that is more flexible to set-up cubicles and have places for students and interns, and that will free up a couple of offices for further expansion,” Brouwer said.
The UNC Charlotte Bioinformatics team supports research on and off campus spanning every facet of bioinformatics. “We do everything from plant pathway analysis to working with clinical data from campus partners and various hospitals to the emerging field of metagenomics, which is looking at the bacteria that live around us. We are quiet diverse.”
Balancing the variety of projects is a team of seven PhD-level researchers and administrative staff that are bolstered by a growing roster of graduate students and interns, including those in the Plant Pathway Elucidation Project (P2EP). P2EP combines the talents of university students with industry and academia to study plant pathways in order to deepen the knowledge of how fruits and vegetables benefit human health. Bioinformatics is a critical piece of P2EP providing data analysis and leadership in building a knowledge database to organize and increase the accessibility of research findings. The new space will be large enough to house the P2EP students as well as those from the UNC Charlotte main campus.
After the expansion is finished, Brouwer will have another addition problem to tackle. He’ll have offices open to hire a new research associate and a second IT person to do some programming and assist in maintaining the team’s computational cluster.
For Clyde Higgs, vice president of business development for the NCRC, the expansion is significant. “We have speculative, ready-to-go lab space leasing, a medical office building that just opened and new construction starting next year,” he said. “UNC Charlotte expanding its presence is further proof that momentum is building on campus and that our partners are finding a need to build their programs to meet the demand for their expertise.”