Dr. Steven Ramsey, assistant professor in the CVM Department of Biomedical Sciences, earned the prestigious Faculty Early Career Award from the National Science Foundation.
“This award recognizes the quality of Dr. Ramsey’s research, which has significant potential for contributing to our understanding of disease in both humans and other animal species – a good example of One Health,” says Dr. Susan Tornquist, Lois Bates Acheson Dean.
The award is a five year grant that supports both research and educational activities, including outreach to K-12 schools. Ramsey’s research uses computer science to discover genetic factors related to heart disease.
“It’s career making,” says Ramsey. “It’s very significant because the five-year grant enables me to have longevity for my research program. To make research breakthroughs, you need the kind of sustained effort that is enabled by the this award.”
Ramsey’s research looks at massive data sets to examine variations in the human genome. But he is not looking at the genes — instead, he is analyzing the spaces in between the genes, the relatively unstudied portion of the genome that affects 40% of inherited risk for disease. “It’s a needle in a haystack problem,” Ramsey says.
Ramsey’s ultimate goal is to improve health. “If we can better understand the molecular basis of disease, it will help us come up with new targets for drugs to prevent or treat disease,” Ramsey said.
Part of the NSF award requires outreach to kinds. Ramsey plans to bring his excitement about bioinfomatics to high school students through afterschool and summer workshops that will introduce them to modern genetics, including analyzing real data with a genome browser. Initial programs will be held at Oregon State University through pre-college programs. Additionally, Ramsey will be working to develop materials that can be used by any high school across the country.