Historically, the Department of Bioinformatics & Structural Biochemistry was funded in 1999 by Dr. Andrei-Jose Petrescu, aiming to consistently implement computational biology techniques - bioinformatics, modeling, simulation - and use them to guide experimental research in molecular biology and biochemistry. Since then, Andrei's group continues to deliver excellence in structural bioinformatics, investigating glycoprotein folding and degradation, the relation between glycosylation and glycoprotein's structure, and more generally studying the biophysical aspects of protein folding and structure. Currently, the group develops techniques in this field and applies them to a variety of problems in structura biology and molecular medicine.
In 2012, Dr. Adina Milac, joined the department, coming from the National Institute of Health, NIH Bethesda, USA, where she carried out two PostDoc stages in Lawrence Tabak's and Robert Guy's lab. Adina brought in fresh molecular modeling and simulation techniques and new research topics related to structure-function relation in ion-channel systems and drug-design.
One other direction of the department, led by Dr. Cristian Munteanu is focused on coupling computational techniques with Mass Spectrometry, Surface Plasmon Resonance and data derived from the high-throughput Drug Screening Platform of the Institute, aiming to step up the scale of biological system investigation to the global proteome and interactome level.
Since 2016, the department greatly increased its size, with the addition of the Computational and Systems Biology of Ageing Group led by Dr. Robi Tacutu, recently returning to the Institute from the University of Liverpool, UK. Robi's group is developing and using bioinformatics tools and omics data to better understand the ageing process and age-related diseases. The group has a strong multidisciplinary background, mixing gerontology, bioinformatics and machine learning techniques in order to analyze large amounts of data from heterogenous high-throughput technologies and from a wide variety of OMICS.
The department is supported by the computational infrastructure provided by the High Performance Computing Centre, one of the central facilities of the Institute, which is smoothly run by Dr. Marius Micluta, and is vital to our molecular simulations and bioinformatics analyses.