Dordt faculty member receives $125,000 grant from NHGRI

Research project to prepare future genomics data scientist

Westra and Tintle

Dr. Nathan Tintle, professor of statistics at Dordt University, was awarded a $125,000 grant from the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), part of the National Institutes of Health. This grant supports Jason Westra, an early-career, master’s prepared statistician and data scientist, for a year-long genomics research experience in the laboratory of Tintle.

Westra, a 2008 Dordt graduate, had been teaching at the high school level and participating in Dr. Tintle’s summer undergraduate genomics training programs. Dr. Tintle recognized Westra’s talent and productivity and the opportunity to provide Westra with significant professional development as a genomics data scientist. During the next year, Westra will receive intensive mentoring from Tintle and training through meaningful and collaborative research work on real statistical problems when learning from genetics data.

“Jason has been a tremendous asset to my lab over the last seven years,” says Tintle. “It’s a testament to Jason’s abilities that the NHGRI has decided to invest in his professional development in this way. I’m excited to work side-by-side with Jason on important problems in statistical genetics over the next year, and hopefully for many years to come.”

The two will work on developing methods for identifying genetic signatures of complex disease phenotypes in electronic health records/biobanks, implementing the methods in end-user ready software including functional genomics visualization and validating and applying these methods to real data on various human cardiometabolic diseases and biomarkers. Their research is providing cutting-edge tools to maximize the clinical utility of electronic health records while respecting data privacy by maximally learning from non-identifiable patient health information.

As an institution of higher education committed to the Reformed Christian perspective, Dordt University equips students, faculty, alumni, and the broader community to work toward Christ-centered renewal in all aspects of contemporary life. Dordt, located in Sioux Center, Iowa, is a comprehensive university named to the best college lists by The Wall Street Journal, Forbes.com, Washington Monthly, and Princeton Review.