David Haussler

David Haussler is the Distinguished Professor of Biomolecular Engineering at the University of California, Santa Cruz;

the Scientific Co-Director of the California Institute for Quantitative Biosciences (QB3), the Director of the Center for Biomolecular Science & Engineering, and an investigator for the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

Haussler’s research lies at the interface of mathematics, computer science, and molecular biology. He develops new statistical and algorithmic methods to explore the molecular function and evolution of the human genome, integrating cross-species comparative and high-throughput genomics data to study gene structure, function, and regulation. He is credited with pioneering the use of Hidden Markov Models (HMMs), Stochastic Context-Free Grammars, and discriminative kernel method for analyzing DNA, RNA, and protein sequences.  He was the first to apply the latter methods to the genome-wide search for gene expression biomarkers in cancer, now a major effort of his laboratory.

As a collaborator on the international Human Genome Project, his team posted the first publicly available computational assembly of the human genome sequence on the Internet on July 7, 2000. Following this his team developed the UCSC Genome Browser, a web-based tool that is used extensively in biomedical research and serves as the platform for several large-scale genomics projects, including the National Human Genome Research Institute’s ENCODE project to use omics methods to explore the function of every base in the human genome (for which UC Santa Cruz serves as the Data Coordination Center), NIH’s Mammalian Gene Collection, NHGRI’s 1,000 genomes project to explore human genetic variation,  and the National Cancer Institute’s Cancer Genome Atlas project to explore the genomic changes in cancer.

Haussler co-founded the Genome 10K Project to assemble a genomic zoo—a collection of DNA sequences representing the genomes of 10,000 vertebrate species—to capture genetic diversity as a resource for the life sciences and for worldwide conservation efforts.

Haussler received his Ph.D. in computer science from the University of Colorado at Boulder. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a fellow of AAAS and AAAI. He has won a number of awards, including the 2009 ASHG Curt Stern Award in Human Genetics, the 2008 Senior Scientist Accomplishment Award from the International Society for Computational Biology, the 2006 Dickson Prize for Science from Carnegie Mellon University, and the 2003 ACM/AAAI Allen Newell Award in Artificial Intelligence. He consults for Pacific Biosciences.