Robert Prill  Robert Prill photo       

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Senior Scientist, Computational Biology & Bioinformatics
Research Staff Member - San Jose, CA






  • Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
    Thesis: Data-driven modeling of large-scale biological regulatory networks
  • B.S.E in Bioengineering, University of Pennsylvania


Dr. Robert Prill is a computational biologist at IBM Research in San Jose, California with 15 years of experience in high-throughput biology, genomics, and bioinformatics research.

At IBM Research, Robert is working on Advanced Bio-Threat Identification Platforms. Robert analyzes extremely large DNA sequence datasets to identify and count the myriad of microbes in and on nearly everything, especially people and the spaces they inhabit, using novel bioinformatics algorithms. Using distributed computing frameworks such as MapReduce, Robert implements algorithms to run at data-center scale. Robert leads the bioinformatics strategy and technical execution for Sequence the City, a grand challenge that envisions a near future of pervasive metagenomic sequencing applied to food, water, garbage, transportation, agriculture, architecture, healthcare — i.e., potentially any material or surface in a city. Robert's technical work is building toward a comprehensive understanding of the DNA content of the built environment to safeguard human, animal, and environmental health.

Robert was awarded an Outstanding Accomplishment by IBM Research for his contributions to the DREAM Challenges. The Dialogue on Reverse Engineering Assessments and Methods (DREAM) is the preeminent crowdsourcing platform for predictive biomedical models. With Gustavo Stolovitsky, Robert co-designed the challenge framework and co-chaired the DREAM challenges in 2008, 2009, and 2010. Robert co-authored the foundational peer-reviewed papers on crowdsourcing ensemble systems biology models.

Robert received the Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland. At Hopkins, Robert discovered a fundamental design principle that governs the structure of all types of biological networks, including neural networks, gene regulation networks, and signal transduction networks. Prior to joining IBM Research, Robert worked across industry, academia and government. At Rosetta Inpharmatics (acquired by Merck) Robert analyzed gene expression on a then cutting-edge genomics platform called a microarray. At Broad Institute (previously the MIT / Whitehead Institute Genome Center) Robert built and ran a production genotyping pipeline using Sanger sequencing to find SNPs in genes, an early forerunner to the SNP Consortium, HapMap, and 1000 Genomes. At the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) Robert worked on the Human Genome Project during the years of intense competition between the International Consortium and Celera Genomics. Early in his career, Robert spent two years on the bench at NIH researching non-immunogenic, human-derived anticancer agents.

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