El-Sayed to Lead New Genomic Sequencing Facility at UMD

Mar 24, 2021

Najib El-Sayed, a professor of cell biology and molecular genetics with a joint appointment in the University of Maryland Institute for Advanced Computer Studies, has been named director of a new campus facility that will enable researchers to access single-cell DNA and RNA sequencing technologies.

The Advanced Genomic Technologies Core (BBI-AGTC), part of the Brain and Behavior Institute (BBI), will advance high-throughput and advanced large-scale genomics research, and will greatly improve the university’s capabilities in neuroscience and other life sciences, says Elizabeth Quinlan, a professor of biology and director of the BBI.

The BBI-AGTC is set to open in mid-April 2021 and will house one of the latest sequencing platforms (Illumina NextSeq 1000), a single-cell controller (10X Genomics Chromium), a liquid handling robotic station (Eppendorf epMotion 5075tc), a real-time PCR instrument and a microfluidics-based platform for the sizing, quantification and quality control of DNA and RNA.

“Next generation sequencing was a big advance toward understanding genomes and RNA expressed in different tissues, and the BBI-AGTC takes that technology a step further by enabling transcriptomes of individual cells,” says Karen Carleton, a professor of biology: “More broadly, the facility could be important for answering a diverse set of biological questions including how cells change through development, infection, or even in response to different behavioral states such as during mating or parental care.”

El-Sayed’s own research uses genomic approaches to study the biology of parasitism. His team develops and applies molecular, computational and systems biology tools to better understand host-pathogen interactions and, ultimately, the mechanisms of infection and survival. His work in functional genomics, tracing how biological information flows from gene to protein expression via RNA transcription, looks to contribute to better diagnosis, prevention of and therapeutics for parasite- and bacteria-caused diseases in humans, animals and plants.

El-Sayed has published more than 90 research papers and serves on the editorial boards of BMC Genomics and PLoS One. He also serves on the National Institute of Health’s Genomics, Computational Biology and Technology study section and the scientific advisory board for the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases’ Genomic Centers for Infectious Diseases.