Michael Skinnider - Dissertation du lauréat, 2016

Michael Skinnider

In 1949, Linus Pauling discovered the cause of sickle-cell anemia: the substitution of a single amino acid in the protein hemoglobin. The discovery seemed to herald a new era in medicine, in which an understanding of the exact genetic defects underlying every disease would accelerate the discovery of new treatments. However, the major health care challenges facing Canada in the 21st century are not caused by mutations in a single gene. Diseases like diabetes, hypertension, and Alzheimer's result from complex interactions between genes and the environment.

I believe that new computational tools to understand biological data will propel the next generation of medical advances. As a MD/PhD student at the University of British Columbia, I am receiving a unique clinician-scientist education that combines research in bioinformatics with training as a physician. My training will enable me to bridge the gap between the bench and bedside, translating breakthroughs in basic science into the clinic. I aspire to use my skills in computer science both to make new discoveries about the pathophysiology of complex diseases, and to develop new interventions, tools, or technologies that will improve patient care.

My research has produced two new algorithms for drug discovery, published in Nature Communications and Nature Chemical Biology, and which I have presented at national and international conferences. One of these computational methods identified an antibiotic with a novel mechanism of action, for which resistance has not yet developed. These algorithms offer hope for combatting the global epidemic of antibiotic resistance.