Lihua Yu

I’m a computational biologist with additional formal training in biomedical and electrical engineering. With my profession, it’s intriguing to work at a company like H3 Biomedicine, where cancer genomics is at the core of what we do and computational biology and bioinformatics are integral to the whole drug discovery process.

My work augments the efforts of our scientists in the labs. I spend much of my time examining the vast quantities of data, including data from thousands of cancer genomes  already characterized in public projects such as The Cancer Genome Atlas and the International Cancer Genome Consortium, as well as genomic data from preclinical models such as cancer cell lines, mouse models and actual cancer patient samples in our own labs. This work serves to catalog genomic changes in many cancer samples with the hope to identify changes that can be targeted by specific drugs, establish systematically the validity of patient selection biomarkers and ultimately boost confidence in targets for potential novel drug therapies.

I use computational tools to detect patterns; I also like to present data visually to help others comprehend large and complex data sets and draw their own conclusions. For instance, I can compute the relationship between a drug’s sensitivity across a large panel of cancer cell lines and a gene’s mRNA expression levels in those same cell lines and present it as a single number. Or I can plot all data points to allow visual inspection of actual data. These two approaches are complementary to each other. Cancer is incredibly complex, so we must approach it from many angles and with many different tools – including deep sequencing and bioinformatics.

When I’m not at H3, I still find myself drawn to visuals, and I really enjoy activities that are focused more on my artistic side and less about numbers. I cook, I garden, and I work on crafts – like origami – with my daughter. It’s important to balance the different activities of our brains and the different activities in our lives.

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