News FocusProfile: Ewan Birney

Genomics' Big Talker

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Science  07 Sep 2012:
Vol. 337, Issue 6099, pp. 1167-1169
DOI: 10.1126/science.337.6099.1167

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A self-taught programmer turned bioinformatician at the European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI), Ewan Birney has used his gift of gab to pull together 442 researchers to characterize not just the genes but also all the functional elements in the human genome. The Encyclopedia of DNA Elements (ENCODE) project this week published 30 scientific papers that begin to fill in the details of DNA's role in making life possible (see p. 1159). Birney was in charge of data analysis, and, along with his right-hand man, EBI's Ian Dunham, he coordinated the setting of quality standards, the development of consistent protocols, and the planning of the publications as well as developing new ways to look at data.