The long-term research goal of Chirag Patel's Group is to solve problems in human health and disease by developing bioinformatics approaches to reason over large-scale environmental exposure and genomic information spanning molecules to populations.

Your Life in Big Data: Genes and Environment

Who we are -- our phenotype -- is determined by the interplay between our genomes and exposomes (defined as the totality of non-genetic factors, including drugs, diet, infectious agents, and pollutants). To understand what makes us healthy and sick, we must understand the relationship between our collective environments and genes.

We attempt to dissect the relationship between the genome and environment in human health using tools of translational bioinformatics in large data streams such as electronic health records and epidemiological cohorts, integrating personal exposure monitoring, the microbiome, and genome sequence information to attain a comprehensive picture of who we are.

Second, we also develop computer intensive approaches to make findings more robust to accelerate meta science, or the "science of science". For example, the "vibration of effects" attempts to estimate how much arbitrary big data choices can change the outcome of a study and decision making!

A viewpoint summarizing our work and the future of big data research in population health can be read in Journal of the American Medical Association, in GenomeWeb (4/2014) and Genetic Engineering News (12/2015), Biomedical Computation Review (2016), The Washington Post (2019), the Verge (2019), and Knowable Magazine (2019).

Affiliations and Funding

Our group is located in the new Department of Biomedical Informatics at Harvard Medical School. We are funded by the National Institutes of Health National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID), the National Science Foundation Big Data Spokes, and the Pharmaceutical Researchers and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) Foundation.