Dr. Barbara Engelhardt settles into new role at Stanford DBDS

< Dr. Barbara Engelhardt


When Barbara Engelhardt joined the Biomedical Data Science faculty as Full Professor this past August, it came with a sense of nostalgia.  Engelhardt earned both her B.S and M.S. at Stanford, and nostalgia came with her each time she visited campus. 

“It feels wonderful,” Dr. Engelhardt, who earned both a bachelor’s and a graduate degree at Stanford University, said. “I had a wonderful experience (at Stanford). I learned from such incredible professors. I'm thrilled at the opportunity — I remember the enthusiasm of me and my peers as undergrads, and I'm really excited to be to be part of the other side of it. Now I get to be a professor, I get to teach undergrad students and have them involved in my research as well. That was one of the highlights of my time at Princeton, so I'm really excited to do that again.”

At Princeton University, Dr. Engelhardt’s active research projects included epigenome-wide association studiespopulation structure and matrix factorizationprotein molecular function predictionstatistical analysis of genetic association studies, and understanding how eQTLs work by looking across eQTL studies, cell types, and regulatory element data, all through the lens of changing the way scientists analyze high dimensional biomedical data for the goal of scientific discovery.

Chair of Biomedical Data Science, Dr. Sylvia Plevritis, is eager to welcome Dr. Engelhart to the DBDS faculty. “I am thrilled to welcome Dr. Engelhardt to the Stanford University as faculty in our Department of Biomedical Data Science,” she said. “Dr. Engelhardt is an accomplished scholar whose work has identified molecular mechanisms of human disorders and diseases through development of statistical algorithms to study human genetic variation and its impact on genomic regulation. The development of such algorithms with application to human medicine is central to the mission our department and we are excited to be advancing this mission with Dr. Engelhardt recruitment.”

Bringing her research to Stanford has Dr. Engelhardt both excited and hopeful that her work can be expanded with the many opportunities available in the Stanford community.

“We're going to go in a lot of different directions because of opportunities that are only found at Stanford; we have the opportunity to work with very special cohorts here,” she explained.  “We’re already working with Casey Gifford (Assistant Professor in Pediatrics, Cardiology) on congenital heart disease in babies and children, thinking about how to understand the mechanisms going from a genotype to the phenotype of being undiagnosed as a teenager and having congenital heart disease.”  

Using her existing research as a base and the advantages of Stanford, Dr. Engelhardt sees breaking new scientific ground as not only a possibility, but a definitive goal. 

“With this direction of really including both the medical side of it,” Dr. Engelhardt said, “talking with a lot of clinicians and doctors, and then the research side of it — the biology and then the genetics — and putting them smack dab on top of each other means we are going ways that no one has gone, thinking about decision making, thinking about experimental design those are things that people haven’t done before. And with machine learning, we can do those things.”

DBDS on Diversity

We are committed to our historical and ongoing mission to use biomedical data science to improve human health. A cornerstone of this mission is diversity, reflected in embracing a breadth of complementary research interests, research styles, and a diverse and inclusive community. DBDS recognizes that we have significant work to do in shaping our future as we work towards achieving justice, equity, diversity and inclusion throughout our work and operations, our research and activities, and our professional relationships and partnerships.

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