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Nils Gehlenborg, PhD


Associate Professor of Biomedical Informatics

Nils Gehlenborg, PhD, is an Associate Professor in the Department of Biomedical Informatics at Harvard Medical School, Director of the Master in Biomedical Informatics program, and Director of the Biomedical Informatics and Data Science Research Training (BIRT) program.

Nils received his PhD from the University of Cambridge and was a predoctoral fellow at the European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI) in the Functional Genomics Group of Alvis Brazma. Dr Gehlenborg completed his postdoctoral training as a Research Associate in the lab of Peter J Park at the Center for Biomedical Informatics at Harvard Medical School.

The goal of Nils’ research is to improve human health by developing visual interfaces and computational techniques that enable scientists and clinicians to efficiently interact with biomedical data. Tight integration of algorithmic approaches from biomedical informatics with advanced data visualization techniques is central to his efforts, as is close collaboration with clinicians and experimentalists. Currently, Nils is researching and developing novel tools to visualize 3D genome conformation data as well as heterogeneous data from large-scale cancer genomics studies. These efforts integrate visual and computational approaches to support sense-making in biology and to support reproducible, collaborative research. Nils is also a Co-Investigator for the 4D Nucleome Network Data Coordination and Integration Center hosted at Harvard Medical School.

Nils is a co-founder, former general chair, and current steering committee chair of BioVis, the Symposium on Biological Data Visualization, and co-founder of VIZBI, the annual workshop on Visualizing Biological Data. Currently, he co-chairs the Policy Working Group for the 4D Nucleome Network, an NIH Common Fund project. Nils has served on the program committees of several international bioinformatics and data visualization conferences and held multiple editorial roles, including his current role as associate editor of BMC Bioinformatics. He has also contributed to the “Points of View” data visualization column in Nature Methods.



EMBL Alumni News (2018)
Nils Gehlenborg wins 2018 John Kendrew Award

"EMBL alumnus Nils Gehlenborg is pushing forward the visualisation of complex genomic and clinical datasets with highly innovative contributions."

Technology Networks (2018)
Data Visualization Innovations in Life Sciences and Drug Discovery

"Data visualization makes its comeback — from static plots to storytelling."

Nature News (2017)
TechBlog: HiPiler simplifies chromatin structure analysis

"Using bioinformatic algorithms, researchers can query chromatin-contact datasets to find all such structures. But these algorithms may return thousands of hits. How is a researcher to study them? Enter HiPiler. Developed by Gehlenborg’s lab in collaboration with the lab of Hanspeter Pfister at the John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Harvard, HiPiler excises these features and presents them on a canvas as miniature snippets — basically tiny segments of the full-sized contact map, which users can then organize, sort, and cluster based on parameters such as noise or location."

Nature News (2017)
Toolbox: Plot a course through the genome

"Inspired by Google Maps, a suite of tools is allowing researchers to chart the complex conformations of chromosomes."

Nature News (2016)
Big biology projects warm up to preprints

"Consortium backed by US National Institutes of Health is first major biology programme to mandate online publication of results ahead of peer review."

The OpenHelix Blog (2014)
Video Tip of the Week: UpSet about genomics Venn Diagrams?

"Looking for both effective and efficient representation of the types of data genomics researchers need, this interactive tool is a really nice way to explore which items belong in which subset. And, of course, which ones don’t. But that’s just the beginning." (2014)
What's behind a No. 1 ranking? Open-source LineUp software enables granular analysis of subjective ranking systems

"To shed light on the trustworthiness of rankings, Harvard researchers have created LineUp, an open-source application that empowers ordinary citizens to make quick, easy judgments about rankings based on multiple attributes."