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Department Speaker – Dr. Phaedra Agius, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center – “The new crystal ball: computational methods in biology

The Department of Mathematics & Statistics would like to welcome:

Dr. Phaedra Agius on Thursday, March 18 at 11:30am in SCP 229.

Title: The new crystal ball: computational methods in biology

Abstract: With the plethora of next gen sequencing and genomics data, computational methods in biology are racing to become the best detectors and forecasters of health issues. Accurate detection of diseases promises preventative care and proper medical prescription, reducing the overall cost of health care management and improving our general well being. In this talk, I will discuss some basic computational, data mining and machine learning methods used for analyzing biological data. I will briefly describe a computational method that we developed for predicting transcription factor binding sites, a novel method for comparing RNA secondary structures and some current data integration approaches that we are using to model genomics and clinical data.

Dr. Phaedra Agius is a Senior Research Scientist at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC). She is current working with a team of biologists and doctors, handling masses of patient data (microarrays, miRNA-seq, CGH) and devising integrated approaches for analyzing these data to yield potential new targets. While at MSKCC she was also part of the team that developed a miRNA target prediction tool called mirSVR. Prior to MSKCC, she was an invited guest lecture at the University of Tartu on Machine Learning; and as a research fellow at the University of Bristol, she participated in a breast cancer project analyzing BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations using Support Vector Classification approaches and feature selection. She designed and coded a Bayesian method for integrating microarray and miRNA expression arrays, using an unsupervised learning approach on breast cancer datasets. Dr. Agius received her PhD in Mathematics from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, MS from The University of Greensboro North Carolina, and her bachelors from The University of Malta.

It would be wonderful if you could encourage students to attend the talk.

Afterwards, we will be taking the speaker out to lunch at 1855. If you are interested in coming to lunch, please email Christina at

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