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Professor Weizhong LI

(Principal investigator, Center for Research in Biological SystemsUniversity of California, San Diego)










Complex and dynamic microbial communities play a profound role in shaping the environment they inhabit. Recent advances in metagenomics approaches and high-throughput Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) technologies have enabled comprehensive study of the microbes from many diverse environments, such as the human microbiota that are thought to deeply influence human health. Vast amounts of sequences being generated impose extreme challenges in computational analyses such as sequence error correction, assembly, mapping, gene prediction, and function analysis. To address these challenges, we build a set of unique NGS-specific tools using fast clustering and alignment algorithms combined with statistical methods and visualization interface. These tools not only allow orders of magnitude faster computational analysis but also offer inimitable way to investigate novel and complex data. We have analyzed several Terabytes of sequence for hundreds of human microbiome samples from healthy people and patients with diseases. Our analysis reveals the detailed microbial composition, dynamics, and functional profiles of the samples and provides new insight into how to correlate microbial profiles with human health and disease states.