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New StatGen Faculty

It is with great excitement that we announce the hiring of two faculty members who will join the Center for Statistical Genetics and Genomics this July:  Yongtao Guan, PhD and Alejandro Ochoa, PhD.


Yongtao (Grant) Guan joins the Department of Biostatistics and Bioinformatics as an Assistant Professor and core member of StatGen.  Guan comes to Duke from Baylor College of Medicine where he was an Assistant Professor in the Departments of Pediatrics and Molecular and Human Genetics, as well as a faculty member with the USDA/ARS Children’s Nutrition Research Center.  After receiving his PhD in Mathematics at the University of Idaho with Steve Krone, PhD and Paul Joyce, PhD, Guan completed a postdoctoral fellowship with Matthew Stephens, PhD at the University of Washington and the University of Chicago.

Guan’s primary research interests include haplotype variation, Bayesian statistics and analysis of sequencing data.  This work is currently supported by funding from the NIH and the USDA. He is currently the PI of an NIH R01, Incorporating Local Haplotype sharing to Detect Genetic Associations.  This grant aims to use local haplotypes as genetic variants to detect association, as genetic background to test for association and extends developed methods to sequence data and analyze rare variants.  Future work includes goals to develop new methods to improve Bayesian variable selection regression and explore new approaches to quantify the quality of called variants in sequencing analysis.


Alejandro (Alex) Ochoa is also joining as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biostatistics and Bioinformatics and core member of StatGen.  Ochoa is completing a postdoctoral fellowship with John Storey, PhD at the Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics and Center for Statistics and Machine Learning at Princeton University.  Prior to this, Ochoa received a PhD in Molecular Biology from Princeton University under the advisement of Mona Singh, PhD and Manuel Llinás, PhD.

Research areas of interest include human disease and evolution, including the study of population genetics and protein sequences.  Ochoa combines expertise in statistics and computer science to tackle computational biology challenges.  More specifically, his work aims to properly account for genomic relatedness to better associate genotype to disease, improve remote homology prediction across large protein databases and model response in psychiatric clinical trials.  Long term goals include developing scalable methods to investigate evolution and genotype-phenotype relationships built around the assumption of arbitrary population structures.


Please join us in welcoming Professors Guan and Ochoa to the Duke family.