Computational Biology

An ongoing trend has been the increase in the availability of biological data, acquired by various methods and in a variety of forms. Computational biology brings together approaches and methods from several fields, including computer science, mathematics, and statistics, to interpret this information and investigate biological and medical questions.

Groups and Researchers in this Field


Computational Biology and Evolutionary Genomics: Discovering Phenotype-Genotype Associations

Michael Hiller heads the Computational Biology and Evolutionary Genomics group at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics. The group is interested in a central question in genetics and evolutionary biology: Which differences in the genome underlie differences in the phenotypes of species? To address this question, we develop computational approaches to detect important genomic differences by comparative analysis, apply these approaches to discover statistical associations between phenotypic and genomic differences, and experimentally validate such associations by genome editing in model organisms. Our work contributes to a better understanding of how nature’s diversity evolved. Read more

Michael Hiller

Michael Hiller

MPI-CBG, Research Group Leader

Personal Website

Structural Bioinformatics of Protein Interactions

Olga Kalinina heads the Structural Bioinformatics of Protein Interactions group in the Computational Biology & Applied Algorithmics Department at the Max Planck Institute for Informatics. As the name suggests, the group studies protein interactions computationally and from a structural perspective. Their research interests include evolution of mechanisms that confer protein interaction. Of particular interest are viruses, because their unique biology and importance for public health render them ideal models for study; much of the group’s research focuses on their evolution, including unique types of gene exchange among them. Additional topics of investigation include, among others, specificity within eukaryotic signaling cascades and modeling of drug resistance-conferring mutations in pathogenic bacteria. Read more

Olga Kalinina

Olga Kalinina

MPI-INF, Senior Researcher

Personal Website

Computational Biology and Applied Algorithmics

Thomas Lengauer is a Scientific Director at the Max Planck Institute for Informatics, where he also heads the Computational Biology & Applied Algorithmics Department. On the methodological side, their research includes work on analysis of biological sequences, analysis and prediction of protein structure and function, analysis of intermolecular interactions and interaction networks, gene and protein expression patterns, and computational drug screening and drug design. On the application side, they focus on the diseases HIV/AIDS, analyzing viral drug resistance patterns as well as variants of viral entry into the host cell; HCV/Hepatitis C, contributing to uncovering the molecular basis of host-pathogen interactions; and neurodegenerative and autoimmune diseases, studying underlying protein interaction networks. Read more

Thomas Lengauer

Thomas Lengauer

MPI-INF, Scientific Director

Personal Website

Algorithms for Computational Genomics

Tobias Marschall is an assistant professor at the Center for Bioinformatics at Saarland University and a senior researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Informatics, where he is affiliated with the Computational Biology & Applied Algorithmics Department. He is heading the Algorithms for Computational Genomics group, focusing on algorithms and statistical methods to analyze high-throughput data to study (population) genetics of humans, bacteria, and cancer. This involves developing the theoretical foundations in algorithmic statistics, combinatorial optimization, and sequence algorithms, and applying the resulting methods in collaboration with biomedical researchers to gain biological insights. Topics addressed range from algorithms for low-level data processing to questions of population genetics. Read more

Tobias Marschall

Tobias Marschall

MPI-INF, Senior Researcher

Personal Website

Exploring Cells & Systems via Image Analysis and Customized Microscopy

Gene Myers is a director as well as a research group leader at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics. The Myers lab is best known for the algorithm in BLAST and the paired-end whole-genome shotgun protocol and assembler—accomplishments in traditional sequence-based bioinformatics. Starting in 2002 the group has gradually shifted its focus, so that today it focuses almost exclusively on analyzing and extracting information from images obtained by various forms of microscopy, as well as building application-customized microscopes. They believe that such devices and the data they produce will reveal more about the function of the entities encoded in the genome than any other approach and will eventually become a prevailing paradigm of investigation, like sequence-based discovery is today. Read more

Gene Myers

Gene Myers

MPI-CBG, Scientific Director

Personal Website

Statistical Learning in Computational Biology

Nico Pfeifer leads the Statistical Learning in Computational Biology group in the Computational Biology & Applied Algorithmics Department at the Max Planck Institute for Informatics. Recent advances in high-throughput technologies have led to an exponential increase in biological data. Finding meaningful insights in such large data collections requires efficient statistical learning methods. The group is interested in developing and applying new machine learning and statistical learning methods to solving computational biology problems and answering new biological questions. Method-wise, they are also interested in integration of heterogeneous datasets, and improving interpretability of non-linear estimators. Application areas include the study of viruses, such as HIV, as well as the field of epigenetics. Read more

Nico Pfeifer

Nico Pfeifer

MPI-INF, Senior Researcher

Personal Website

Efficient Algorithms for Omics Data

Knut Reinert is a professor at the Free University of Berlin and a Max Planck Fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics. His Algorithmic Bioinformatics group focuses on development of novel algorithms and datastructures for problems in the analysis of biomedical mass data. In particular, they work on mathematical models for analyzing large genomic sequences, especially in the context of next generation sequencing, and data derived from mass spectrometry experiments, for example to detect differential expression of proteins between normal and diseased samples. Apart from modeling problems and devising efficient algorithms to solve them, the group focuses on developing free, integrated implementations of these algorithms and data structures in maintainable software libraries such as OpenMS and SeqAn. Read more

Knut Reinert

Knut Reinert

MPI-MG, Max Planck Fellow

Personal Website

The MOSAIC Group: Scientific Computing for Image-based Systems Biology

Ivo F. Sbalzarini is a full professor on the faculty of computer science at TU Dresden, where he holds the Chair of Scientific Computing for Systems Biology in the Center for Systems Biology Dresden (CSBD). At the same time, Ivo is also a tenured Senior Research Group Leader at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics. He is the founder and head of the MOSAIC group, which does research in scientific computing for image-based systems biology. The group exploits the unifying framework of particle methods for image analysis, numerical simulation, and model identification. Their research is mainly theoretical and computational. As they do not perform their own experiments and do not run a wet lab, they collaborate with numerous experimental groups in order to apply their methods to help advance biology. Read more

Ivo F. Sbalzarini

Ivo F. Sbalzarini

MPI-CBG, Senior Research Group Leader

Personal Website

High-throughput Genomics and Systems Biology

Marcel Schulz heads the High-throughput Genomics & Systems Biology group, affiliated with both the Computational Biology & Applied Algorithmics Department at the Max Planck Institute for Informatics and the Cluster of Excellence on Multimodal Computing and Interaction. The group develops computational systems biology models and algorithms to further understanding of transcriptional and post-transcriptional regulation using a variety of genomics data. Their vision is to produce a comprehensive, highly detailed computational catalogue of gene regulation for each gene in the human genome, including transcriptional and post-transcriptional regulators. Ongoing projects study regulatory networks to predict new disease gene candidates and to elucidate novel functions of gene products and RNAs in various human diseases. Read more

Marcel Schulz

Marcel Schulz

MPI-INF, Senior Researcher

Personal Website

Computational Molecular Biology

Besides being an honorary professor of computer science at the Free University of Berlin, Martin Vingron is Director at the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics, where he heads the Computational Molecular Biology Department and its Gene Regulation research group. Toward a better understanding of transcriptional regulation in eukaryotes, the group works to exploit the plethora of whole-genome sequence data as well as functional genomics data on gene expression and on DNA-binding proteins which are now available. Major issues are the identification of the sequence motifs in promoters and enhancers, the interplay between epigenetic marks and regulation, and the evolution of regulatory elements. Construction of gene regulatory networks is the ultimate goal to which this information should eventually contribute. Read more

Martin Vingron

Martin Vingron

MPI-MG, Scientific Director

Personal Website