We are an interdisciplinary team of research biologists, medical doctors, engineers, mathematicians, and computer scientists. We collaborate extensively with other biomedical researchers and clinicians within and beyond Washington University on large-scale cancer projects.

Principal Investigator

Li Ding, Ph.D. Associate Professor of Medicine and Genetics Director of Computational Biology, Oncology Assistant Director, McDonnell Genome Institute Washington University School of Medicine

Li Ding, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Medicine and Genetics Director of Computational Biology, Oncology Assistant Director, McDonnell Genome Institute Washington University School of Medicine

Dr. Ding's current research focuses on the discovery of genetic changes (somatic and germline) contributing to human diseases by integrating various data types, including DNA, RNA, and proteomics data. Her research team has developed a collection of widely-used computational tools, including VarScan, SomaticSniper, SciClone, BreakDancer, BreakFusion, MSIsensor, Pindel-C, GenomeVIP, HotSpot3D, PathScan, and MuSiC. Dr. Ding plays significant roles in The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA), the International Cancer Genome Consortium (ICGC), and the Clinical Proteomic Tumor Analysis Consortium (CPTAC). She co-chairs the TCGA PanCanAtlas Oncogenic Process Group, the TCGA Sarcoma Analysis Working Group, and the ICGC Mutation Calling Group. Dr. Ding also serves on the Steering Committees of the Genomic Data Commons (GDC), CPTAC, and TCGA. Dr. Ding has successfully led many large-scale, multi-institute studies on the genomics of lung adenocarcinomas, AML, and breast cancer. Building on this foundation, her team has produced a series of seminal publications in the fields of cancer genomics research and cancer biology. 

 
 

Group photos

 

Faculty and Staff

Michael Wendl, Ph.D.,  Research Faculty I completed undergraduate and graduate training at Washington University, after which I joined the nascent Human Genome Project working with Dr. Robert Waterston on signal analysis (basecalling), bioinformatics algorithms, and operations-research theory applied to genomic sequencing. My interests continue to be in the mathematical and statistical aspects of cancer biology and biophysics.

Michael Wendl, Ph.D.,  Research Faculty

I completed undergraduate and graduate training at Washington University, after which I joined the nascent Human Genome Project working with Dr. Robert Waterston on signal analysis (basecalling),
bioinformatics algorithms, and operations-research theory applied to genomic sequencing. My interests continue to be in the mathematical and statistical aspects of cancer biology and biophysics.

Song Cao, Ph.D.,  Staff Scientist I have broad research experience and intensive coding experience in the fields of RNA informatics, cancer genomics and proteomics, viromics and computational biophysics. In the past years, I developed the Vfold model for accurately predicting RNA two and three-dimensional structures, the VirusScan pipeline for detecting viruses from NGS data, and the PepScan pipeline for processing mass spectra data. In my spare time, I like different outdoor activities such as fishing, running, hiking and playing basketball. 

Song Cao, Ph.D.,  Staff Scientist

I have broad research experience and intensive coding experience in the fields of RNA informatics, cancer genomics and proteomics, viromics and computational biophysics. In the past years, I developed the Vfold model for accurately predicting RNA two and three-dimensional structures, the VirusScan pipeline for detecting viruses from NGS data, and the PepScan pipeline for processing mass spectra data. In my spare time, I like different outdoor activities such as fishing, running, hiking and playing basketball. 

Wen-Wei "Leo" Liao, Research Assistant Here people call me Leo instead of my real name to avoid confusion. I grew up in Zhunan, a small town in western Taiwan. Before I came to St.Louis, I worked at CSHL studying the effect of TDP-43 and transposable elements on ALS. Currently, I am interested in cancer genomics.

Wen-Wei "Leo" Liao, Research Assistant

Here people call me Leo instead of my real name to avoid confusion. I grew up in Zhunan, a small town in western Taiwan. Before I came to St.Louis, I worked at CSHL studying the effect of TDP-43 and transposable elements on ALS. Currently, I am interested in cancer genomics.

R. Jay Mashl, Ph.D., Staff Scientist My research includes developing computational tools and building pipelines for genetic variant analysis and interpretation in relation to human disease. During these efforts, I have contributed to several large-scale consortium projects. In my personal pursuits, I enjoy hiking and running.

R. Jay Mashl, Ph.D., Staff Scientist

My research includes developing computational tools and building pipelines for genetic variant analysis and interpretation in relation to human disease. During these efforts, I have contributed to
several large-scale consortium projects. In my personal pursuits, I enjoy hiking and running.

Clara Oh, Lab Technician I enjoyed a lively childhood in California, then made my way to St. Louis to pursue my goals of biological research and medicine. As a Research Technician, my work involves functional validation of cancer variants and mutations identified using the Ding Lab’s computational tools. Outside of lab, I am a choreographer, avid K-pop fan, and DIY hairstylist. 

Clara Oh, Lab Technician

I enjoyed a lively childhood in California, then made my way to St. Louis to pursue my goals of biological research and medicine. As a Research Technician, my work involves functional validation of cancer variants and mutations identified using the Ding Lab’s computational tools. Outside of lab, I am a choreographer, avid K-pop fan, and DIY hairstylist. 

Matthew Wyczalkowski, Ph.D., Staff Scientist My research looks at the role of virus integration in cancer and the development of tools to detect and visualize such events. I've always been interested in using computational and mathematical tools to understand biological systems.  Outside of work I'm the Executive Director of The BALSA Foundation and enjoy photography and cycling.

Matthew Wyczalkowski, Ph.D., Staff Scientist

My research looks at the role of virus integration in cancer and the development of tools to detect and visualize such events. I've always been interested in using computational and mathematical tools to understand biological systems.  Outside of work I'm the Executive Director of The BALSA Foundation and enjoy photography and cycling.

Yanyan Zhao, Lab Technician I grew up in Anhui, a beautiful place well known for its mountains in the middle of China. My work now is helping with wet lab experiments of cancer and kidney related projects. Outside of work I like reading fiction, cooking, and also traveling. I like to visit different places and enjoy yummy food there.

Yanyan Zhao, Lab Technician

I grew up in Anhui, a beautiful place well known for its mountains in the middle of China. My work now is helping with wet lab experiments of cancer and kidney related projects. Outside of work I like reading fiction, cooking, and also traveling. I like to visit different places and enjoy yummy food there.

 
 
 

Postdocs

Qingsong Gao, Ph.D., Postdoc I received my Ph.D. at Max Delbrück Center (MDC) for Molecular Medicine in Berlin, Germany. During my Ph.D. I studied different levels of post-transcriptional regulation in model organisms using RNA-Seq. Now I am interested in cancer genomics in human.

Qingsong Gao, Ph.D., Postdoc

I received my Ph.D. at Max Delbrück Center (MDC) for Molecular Medicine in Berlin, Germany. During my Ph.D. I studied different levels of post-transcriptional regulation in model organisms using RNA-Seq. Now I am interested in cancer genomics in human.

Dawn King, Ph.D, Postdoc My research interests lie between the disciples of physics, biology, and computer science. I aim to develop computational techniques to analyze dynamical complex systems. In the past, I focused on traditional Darwinian evolutionary dynamics on evolving populations; I now hope to apply dynamical evolutionary concepts on the evolution of cancer. Outside of work, I organize meetings for APS Local Links, and I enjoy spending time with my family, going to yoga, and gardening.

Dawn King, Ph.D, Postdoc

My research interests lie between the disciples of physics, biology, and computer science. I aim to develop computational techniques to analyze dynamical complex systems. In the past, I focused on traditional Darwinian evolutionary dynamics on evolving populations; I now hope to apply dynamical evolutionary concepts on the evolution of cancer. Outside of work, I organize meetings for APS Local Links, and I enjoy spending time with my family, going to yoga, and gardening.

Adam Scott, Ph.D., Postdoc I grew up on a farm near the Lake of the Ozarks here in Missouri where I ran trails and played in a rock band. I now enjoy anything outdoors, video game development, and science. In my adult time, I am a physicist and a developer enjoying my work to understand complex systems in biology and medicine.

Adam Scott, Ph.D., Postdoc

I grew up on a farm near the Lake of the Ozarks here in Missouri where I ran trails and played in a rock band. I now enjoy anything outdoors, video game development, and science. In my adult time, I am a physicist and a developer enjoying my work to understand complex systems in biology and medicine.

Amila Weerasinghe, Ph.D., Postdoc I am a theoretical condensed matter physicist trying to contribute to solving important biological problems. My goal is to use my analytical skills in genomic research. I grew up in Sri Lanka, which is a beautiful country full of natural forests, wild life, and a proud history. Outside of work, I like playing cricket, participating in other recreational sports, and reading books.

Amila Weerasinghe, Ph.D., Postdoc

I am a theoretical condensed matter physicist trying to contribute to solving important biological problems. My goal is to use my analytical skills in genomic research. I grew up in Sri Lanka, which is a beautiful country full of natural forests, wild life, and a proud history. Outside of work, I like playing cricket, participating in other recreational sports, and reading books.

 
 
 

Graduate Students

Matthew Bailey, Graduate Student As a first generation PhD candidate I am fueled by naïve curiosity. I look forward to the day when we can relieve human suffering by leveraging evolutionary trajectories. Outside of work I am oriented to raising my two kids to be true to themselves and to be aware of the beautiful and complex biological designs that surround them.

Matthew Bailey, Graduate Student

As a first generation PhD candidate I am fueled by naïve curiosity. I look forward to the day when we can relieve human suffering by leveraging evolutionary trajectories. Outside of work I am oriented to raising my two kids to be true to themselves and to be aware of the beautiful and complex biological designs that surround them.

Dan Cui, Graduate Student I grew up in Mexico City surrounded by mountains and a couple of volcanoes. I enjoy napping, video games, and attempting to recreate home recipes in the kitchen, with often disastrous results.

Dan Cui, Graduate Student

I grew up in Mexico City surrounded by mountains and a couple of volcanoes. I enjoy napping, video games, and attempting to recreate home recipes in the kitchen, with often disastrous results.

Steven Foltz, Graduate Student During and outside of work hours, I am driven by a desire to help people live happier lives. I enjoy teaching, mentoring, and developing my computational skills to explore important questions in cancer genomics. I also enjoy reading books, looking at maps, staying current with the news, training for triathlons, and exploring national parks.

Steven Foltz, Graduate Student

During and outside of work hours, I am driven by a desire to help people live happier lives. I enjoy teaching, mentoring, and developing my computational skills to explore important questions in cancer genomics. I also enjoy reading books, looking at maps, staying current with the news, training for triathlons, and exploring national parks.

Kuan-Lin Huang, Graduate Student I am a PhD student studying cancer predisposition and proteogenomics integration. I am from the sub-tropical island of Taiwan and love to go outdoors: hiking, surfing, tennis and all kinds of sport. When it's below 10 degrees C out, you'll find me traveling the world or coding/chilling at home with my cat Cre. 

Kuan-Lin Huang, Graduate Student

I am a PhD student studying cancer predisposition and proteogenomics integration. I am from the sub-tropical island of Taiwan and love to go outdoors: hiking, surfing, tennis and all kinds of sport. When it's below 10 degrees C out, you'll find me traveling the world or coding/chilling at home with my cat Cre. 

Reyka Jayasinghe, Graduate Student I hail from Los Angeles and spent a few years in San Francisco before coming over to St. Louis. I spend most of my time meowing at people and attempting to create computational tools to analyze sequencing data with a focus on alternative splicing. With the rest of my time I work with two awesome non-profits: Young Scientist Program and BALSA Foundation.

Reyka Jayasinghe, Graduate Student

I hail from Los Angeles and spent a few years in San Francisco before coming over to St. Louis. I spend most of my time meowing at people and attempting to create computational tools to analyze sequencing data with a focus on alternative splicing. With the rest of my time I work with two awesome non-profits: Young Scientist Program and BALSA Foundation.

Yize Li, Rotation Graduate Student I grew up in Guangzhou, a southern city in China with warm weather, gorgeous views, and hospitable people.  I now learn and work on cancer genomics research and cancer biology. Outside of the lab, I love various kinds of sports, especially basketball, badminton, and swimming. Besides that, I also enjoy hiking and reading.

Yize Li, Rotation Graduate Student

I grew up in Guangzhou, a southern city in China with warm weather, gorgeous views, and hospitable people.  I now learn and work on cancer genomics research and cancer biology. Outside of the lab, I love various kinds of sports, especially basketball, badminton, and swimming. Besides that, I also enjoy hiking and reading.

Wen-Wei Liang, Graduate Student I grew up in Kaoshiung, Taiwan, a lovely city with year-round sunshine and warm-hearted people. I was a pipette holder, and now I am a rookie programmer working on tackling noncoding variants in cancer. Outside of lab, I like to try anything new to me; currently that includes climbing and playing guitar.

Wen-Wei Liang, Graduate Student

I grew up in Kaoshiung, Taiwan, a lovely city with year-round sunshine and warm-hearted people. I was a pipette holder, and now I am a rookie programmer working on tackling noncoding variants in cancer. Outside of lab, I like to try anything new to me; currently that includes climbing and playing guitar.

Peter Ronning, Rotation Graduate Student I grew up living the suburb life in Minnesota with a great family, two dogs, and on hockey skates. After graduating from the University of Minnesota, I spent two years in Boston. Now, I am part of Wash U as a first year MGG student. In my spare time I enjoy being active by hiking, playing in hockey leagues, golfing, and playing any other sports that I can. I am a cat owner. 

Peter Ronning, Rotation Graduate Student

I grew up living the suburb life in Minnesota with a great family, two dogs, and on hockey skates. After graduating from the University of Minnesota, I spent two years in Boston. Now, I am part of Wash U as a first year MGG student. In my spare time I enjoy being active by hiking, playing in hockey leagues, golfing, and playing any other sports that I can. I am a cat owner. 

Sohini Sengupta, Graduate Student I am from the cutest city of Virginia Beach, VA! I am a Biomedical Engineer by training and enjoy using programming to understand druggable and driver mutations in cancer. In addition to science, I love hanging with friends, exploring St. Louis, and eating at all the restaurants.  I am trained in Indian classical dance and enjoy learning new dance forms, which currently include Argentine Tango and Zumba!

Sohini Sengupta, Graduate Student

I am from the cutest city of Virginia Beach, VA! I am a Biomedical Engineer by training and enjoy using programming to understand druggable and driver mutations in cancer. In addition to science, I love hanging with friends, exploring St. Louis, and eating at all the restaurants.  I am trained in Indian classical dance and enjoy learning new dance forms, which currently include Argentine Tango and Zumba!

Liang-Bo "BoBo" Wang, Graduate Student I'm a Pythonista from Taiwan working on cancer variant analysis. People used to call me Liang-Liang but here Bobo is my new name, which together form my full first name. I love programming and participate in many open source communities. Other than talking to computers, I take photos of natural scenes and enjoy the view with good books.

Liang-Bo "BoBo" Wang, Graduate Student

I'm a Pythonista from Taiwan working on cancer variant analysis. People used to call me Liang-Liang but here Bobo is my new name, which together form my full first name. I love programming and participate in many open source communities. Other than talking to computers, I take photos of natural scenes and enjoy the view with good books.

Naomi Wilson, Rotation Graduate Student I was proudly born and raised in Rochester, NY and studied biochemistry nearby at SUNY Geneseo. My drive for biomedical research comes from a place of constantly asking why and aching to know how the world works. As a guest in the Ding Lab, I am working on a tool called HotSpot3D which identifies mutation hotspots and interacting domains in protein structure from the protein's linear sequence. A few of my favorite things are playing percussion in symphony orchestras, hiking to beautiful views, and reading enriching books.

Naomi Wilson, Rotation Graduate Student

I was proudly born and raised in Rochester, NY and studied biochemistry nearby at SUNY Geneseo. My drive for biomedical research comes from a place of constantly asking why and aching to know how the world works. As a guest in the Ding Lab, I am working on a tool called HotSpot3D which identifies mutation hotspots and interacting domains in protein structure from the protein's linear sequence. A few of my favorite things are playing percussion in symphony orchestras, hiking to beautiful views, and reading enriching books.

Yige Wu, Graduate Student I come from Zhejiang, a place known as Land of Fish and Rice in eastern coastal China. I traveled north to Peking University to study biology for undergraduate degree. Now I'm working on pan-cancer proteomics, particularly kinase-substrate phosphorylation network. Outside of lab, I enjoy things friendly to mind-wandering, which include hiking, going to concerts and watching movies.

Yige Wu, Graduate Student

I come from Zhejiang, a place known as Land of Fish and Rice in eastern coastal China. I traveled north to Peking University to study biology for undergraduate degree. Now I'm working on pan-cancer proteomics, particularly kinase-substrate phosphorylation network. Outside of lab, I enjoy things friendly to mind-wandering, which include hiking, going to concerts and watching movies.

Lijun Yao, Rotation Graduate Student I come from Taiyuan, a historical and lovely city in northern China. I studied Horticulture in my undergraduate program and then I completed my Master’s training at USC, where I developed my interest in cancer research by utilizing cutting-edge genomics approaches.  In my spare time, I enjoy traveling, reading historical books, singing or just chatting with my friends!

Lijun Yao, Rotation Graduate Student

I come from Taiyuan, a historical and lovely city in northern China. I studied Horticulture in my undergraduate program and then I completed my Master’s training at USC, where I developed my interest in cancer research by utilizing cutting-edge genomics approaches.  In my spare time, I enjoy traveling, reading historical books, singing or just chatting with my friends!

Chris Yoon, MSTP Student I spent my youth in Seoul, Korea growing up as a kid who enjoyed playing soccer and loved life sciences. Over the years, I also developed interest in using computer science to solve biological enigmas. One such puzzle I'm trying to solve includes detecting and understanding complex genomic structural variations and its biological function in tumorigenesis.  

Chris Yoon, MSTP Student

I spent my youth in Seoul, Korea growing up as a kid who enjoyed playing soccer and loved life sciences. Over the years, I also developed interest in using computer science to solve biological enigmas. One such puzzle I'm trying to solve includes detecting and understanding complex genomic structural variations and its biological function in tumorigenesis.  

 
 

Undergraduate Students

Jonathan Chen, Undergraduate Student I am a computer science and computational biology student coming to St. Louis from the San Francisco Bay Area. I am looking forward to exploring the applications of data science and bioinformatics to cancer research. In my spare time, I like to explore the city and eat delicious food.

Jonathan Chen, Undergraduate Student

I am a computer science and computational biology student coming to St. Louis from the San Francisco Bay Area. I am looking forward to exploring the applications of data science and bioinformatics to cancer research. In my spare time, I like to explore the city and eat delicious food.

Guanlan Dong, Undergraduate Student Growing up in Beijing, China, I always enjoy trying new things. While majoring in math, bioinformatics is my favorite discovery. I like mathematical approaches to genetics problems, and appreciate how computer science can adopt such approaches in the most creative and efficient way. Outside of lab and school, I love food and my recent hobbies include yoga and squash.

Guanlan Dong, Undergraduate Student

Growing up in Beijing, China, I always enjoy trying new things. While majoring in math, bioinformatics is my favorite discovery. I like mathematical approaches to genetics problems, and appreciate how computer science can adopt such approaches in the most creative and efficient way. Outside of lab and school, I love food and my recent hobbies include yoga and squash.

Shrikar Iragavarapu, Undergraduate Student I was born in Santa Clara, CA, the heart of the Silicon Valley. Today, I combine my interests in medicine and programming into my study of Computational Biology at Washington University in St. Louis. I am super excited to be part of this team! Whenever possible, I like to play tennis and too many video games for my own good.

Shrikar Iragavarapu, Undergraduate Student

I was born in Santa Clara, CA, the heart of the Silicon Valley. Today, I combine my interests in medicine and programming into my study of Computational Biology at Washington University in St. Louis. I am super excited to be part of this team! Whenever possible, I like to play tennis and too many video games for my own good.

Caleb Ji, Undergraduate Student I grew up near Seattle, Washington in the comely city of Kirkland. Growing up, I developed a fascination with pure math, which remains with me today. As an undergraduate at Washington University, I plan to double major in math and computer science with a minor in bioinformatics. I’m interested in applying math and programming skills in innovative ways to the medical field. Outside of work, I enjoy hiking, playing tennis, reading classics, and pondering the tenets and implications of effective altruism.

Caleb Ji, Undergraduate Student

I grew up near Seattle, Washington in the comely city of Kirkland. Growing up, I developed a fascination with pure math, which remains with me today. As an undergraduate at Washington University, I plan to double major in math and computer science with a minor in bioinformatics. I’m interested in applying math and programming skills in innovative ways to the medical field. Outside of work, I enjoy hiking, playing tennis, reading classics, and pondering the tenets and implications of effective altruism.

Terrence Tsou, Undergraduate Student I’m from Los Angeles, and my goal is to better understand the genetics of cancer, especially lung cancer. In my free time, I enjoy watching movies and musicals, playing piano, and traveling. I like to be adventurous and challenge myself to do new activities such as fencing.

Terrence Tsou, Undergraduate Student

I’m from Los Angeles, and my goal is to better understand the genetics of cancer, especially lung cancer. In my free time, I enjoy watching movies and musicals, playing piano, and traveling. I like to be adventurous and challenge myself to do new activities such as fencing.

 
 

Affiliated Faculty, STAFF, AND STUDENTS

Alumni

Ding Lab

Faculty, Staff & Postdocs

Graduate & Medical Students

  • Winston Anthony (rotation)
  • Jennifer Flynn (rotation)
  • Arielle Homayouni (rotation)
  • Yang Li (rotation)
  • Ju Heon Maeng (rotation)
  • Sam Sun, M.D. 
  • Wing Hing Wong (rotation)
  • Mingchao Xie, Ph.D.

Undergraduate Students

  • Prag Batra
  • Maheetha Bharadwaj
  • Erin DeNardo
  • Nathan Dollinger
  • Ani Gururaj
  • Malik Hadjri
  • Mo Huang
  • Monica Lim
  • Carolyn Lou
  • Ryan Sachar
  • Weihua Wang

Medical genomics

  • Ken Chen, Ph.D.
  • Nathan Dees, Ph.D.
  • Xian Fan
  • Chris Harris
  • Xin Hong
  • Mark Johnson
  • Krishna Kanchi
  • Dan Koboldt
  • David Larson, Ph.D.
  • Ling Lin
  • Charles Lu, Ph.D.
  • Rick Meyer
  • Chris Miller, Ph.D.
  • John Osbourne
  • William Schierding
  • Heather Schmidt
  • Dong Shen, Ph.D.
  • Xiaoqi Shi
  • Yuzhu Tang, M.D. 
  • Joelle Veizer
  • John Wallis, Ph.D.