In Interviews

Biology and computer programming enthusiast Dr Joshua Ho will be giving a talk at BioInfoSummer 2015. We asked him some questions about his interests, his work and his career highlight to date.

What do you think are the most interesting “big questions” in your field?
In the field of bioinformatics software testing, the ‘big question’ is how can we establish confidence in the correctness and reliability of a bioinformatics program.

Please tell us about your research interests and what you are currently working on.
To tackle the ‘big question’, my laboratory adopts state-of-the-art software testing techniques from the field of software engineering to implement systematic software testing and quality assurance strategies to test a variety of bioinformatics programs.

Do you have favourite applications of your work and what is the impact of these applications?
My work has broad application in bioinformatics. One of the most important applications is on providing quality assurance to software involved in analysing human DNA sequencing data for medical genetic applications.

Why did you choose this career?
I have always been interested in biology and computer programming, so going into bioinformatics is a no brainer for me. Bioinformatics is an exciting subject because we get to solve interesting statistical and computational problems every day, and if we can solve these problems, there is a real possibility of contributing to human health!

Can you tell us about the highlight of your career so far?
When I was in Harvard, I led a team of bioinformaticians to analyse a large collection of >1,000 genome-wide chromatin data sets that enables us to systematically study how genes may be regulated at an ‘epigenomic’ level through chromatin organisation across three evolutionarily diverse organisms – humans, fruit flies, and roundworms. Our study revealed that while most key chromatin features are conserved across these species, the composition and location of the repressive chromatin is much more variable across these species. This study opens up new research avenues in terms of understanding how genes are regulated in different organisms. The finding of this paper was published in Nature last year.