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Now Available: Innovators Under 35 2013 See The 2013 List »

Fiona Brinkman, 34

Biotechnology

Simon Fraser University

Pathogens often exploit our cells to thrive. Fiona Brinkman therefore hypothesizes that some of their genes are similar to human genes. By identifying such genes computationally, Brinkman is trying to understand how drugs could stop pathogens from storming the body’s fortress. Brinkman coordinates this interdisciplinary work through an online “pathogenomics” project she runs from Simon Fraser University in British Columbia. It uses a free program she developed called PhyloBlast to evaluate relationships between genes by comparing their sequences and the proteins they code for. Previously, Brinkman organized the first Internet-based effort to refine and annotate bacterial genome data, focusing on P. aeruginosa, a widely drug- resistant bacterium that causes fatal infections in cystic-fibrosis patients. The group gained critical insight into how the bacterium works, which had eluded researchers. “Once we have the parts list for how the bug is functioning,” Brinkman says, “we can figure out new approaches to drugs.” Her collaborative electronic approach is now being used by other genome researchers.

2002 TR35 Winners

Ewan Birney

Biotechnology

Fiona Brinkman

Biotechnology

Chris Burge

Biotechnology

Benjamin Cravatt

Biotechnology

Nathaniel David

Biotechnology

Susan Hagness

Medicine

Derek Hansford

Materials

J. Joseph Kim

Medicine

Steven Laken

Medicine

Kelvin Lee

Medicine

Milan Mrksich

Materials

Stephen OConnor

Biotechnology

Alexander Olek

Biotechnology

Vijay Pande

Biotechnology

Stephen Quake

Materials

David Sabatini

Biotechnology

John Santini

Medicine

David Schaffer

Medicine

Christoph Westphal

Biotechnology

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