Ewan Birney's homepage

Dr Ewan Birney is Associate Director of the EMBL-European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI). He is one of the founders of the Ensembl genome browser and other databases, and has played a key role in many large-scale genomics projects, notably the sequencing of the Human Genome in 2000 and the analysis of genome function in the ENCODE project. He has been Lead Analysis Coordinator for ENCODE since 2007; he also coordinated data analysis in the "1% Pilot". Dr Birney has played a vital role in annotating the genome sequences of the human, mouse, chicken and several other organisms; this work has had a profound impact on our understanding of genomic biology. His research group currently focuses on genomic algorithms and inter-individual differences in human and other species.

As Associate Director of EMBL-EBI, Dr Birney shares strategic oversight of EBI services with Rolf Apweiler (co-Associate Director). EMBL-EBI hosts some of the world’s most important collections of biological data, including DNA sequences, the genomes of animals and plants , three-dimensional molecular structures, data from gene expression experiments, Protein mass spectroscopy, small molecules of biological interest,their drug/protein target interactions and pathways. Many of these resources are developed in close collaboration with our patners at Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics, Sanger Institute, and Ontario Institute for Cancer Research. The EBI leads the European Elixir project which aims to broaden and deepen these relationships in Europe to provide an stable bioinformatics infrastructure that works well in the national, transnational and international contexts.

As well as these strategic aspects, Ewan Birney still does research, working on aspects such as DNA Compression, Functional genomics analysis (eg, a recent paper with the Furlong lab) and using inter individual differences to understand basic biology (eg, a paper of CTCF binding in two families)

Brief Biography

I originally trained in biochemistry but moved quickly into bioinformatics, publishing my first set of programs (Pairwise and Searchwise) as an undergraduate at Balliol College, Oxford. I benefitted greatly from spending time in Adrian Krainer's Lab at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Toby Gibson at EMBL Heidelberg and Iain Campbell's lab at Oxford. I did my PhD with Richard Durbin at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and St John's College cambridge, and have collaborated with him since. In 2000 I joined EMBL-EBI as a Team Leader, became a Senior Scientist in EMBL in 2003 and was appointed Associate Director in 2012. I was involved in the Human genome project (both Draft and Finished) 1999-2003, the Mouse genome project, and many others. I lead the analysis of ENCODE for both the 1% pilot (published in 2007) and the scale up (published in 2012). I contributed to the Pfam database, and co-founded both the Ensembl and Reactome databases, both of which have moved to new direct leadership. Through my Associate Directorship of the EBI I continue to involved in these projects along with many others. I was involved in the creation of a number of widely used bioinformatics tools, either directly (Genewise, 2000), or in collaboration with students and postdocs, eg Exonerate (with Guy Slater), Enredo (Javier Herrero), Pecan (Benedict Paten), Velvet (Daniel Zerbino) and CRAM (Markus Hsi-yang Fritz, Rasko Lenionen and Vadim Zalunin). In 2003 I was awarded the Francis Crick Lecturure In 2012 I was also elected fellow of the European Molecular Biology Organisation (EMBO).



Ewan Birney maintains a blog, Bioinformatician at Large and is active on Twitter @ewanbirney.

He has published around 172 papers (listed on EBI, NCBI and Google Scholar).

E-mail: birney [at] ebi.ac.uk

For scheduling and diary requests, please email: birney-request [at] ebi.ac.uk