Andy Baxevanis, Ph.D.
Dr. Baxevanis is the Director of Computational Biology for the National Institutes of Health’s Intramural Research Program. In this role, he has responsibility for addressing a wide range of bioinformatic and computational issues of importance to the NIH Intramural Research Program. He is currently leading a number of strategic planning initiatives aimed at improving the IRP’s computational infrastructure and high-performance computing capabilities, in an effort to meet the ever-growing scientific computing needs of all IRP investigators; this has included a major expansion of the IRP’s high-performance computing environment, creating and providing IRP researchers access to one of the top-ranked supercomputers worldwide. Dr. Baxevanis served as the Deputy Scientific Director of the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) from 1998 to 2011 before assuming his current position.
Dr. Baxevanis is also a Senior Scientist leading the NHGRI’s Computational Genomics Unit. His research program focuses on the use of phylogenetic and comparative genomic techniques to study developmental proteins that play a fundamental role in the specification of body plan, pattern formation, and cell fate determination during metazoan development. His group uses a variety of computational approaches to understand the evolution and function of these proteins and their ultimate role in human disease. Building upon prior work on the origin and early evolution of Hox genes, his research group’s focus has turned to analyzing the genomes of early branching metazoan phyla to better-understand the relationship between genomic and morphological complexity, as well as the evolution of novel cell types. Using a variety of next-generation sequencing and bioinformatics techniques, his group recently completed the sequencing, annotation, and analysis of the genome of the ctenophore Mnemiopsis leidyi. This work has brought resolution to the question of the phylogenetic position of the ctenophores, placing them as the sister group to all other animals, also demonstrating that the genetic blueprint for complex, multicellular organisms was present even in our distant animal relatives. He is also one of the lead investigators of the Multiplex Initiative, a large-scale, multi-center clinical and behavioral study aimed at exploring why patients elect (or decline) genetic susceptibility tests, how they interpret test information and results, and how they will ultimately use this knowledge in future health care decisions.
Dr. Baxevanis is co-author of the textbook Bioinformatics: A Practical Guide to the Analysis of Genes and Proteins, whose fourth edition will be published shortly. He also currently serves on a number of editorial and academic scientific advisory boards. His involvement in educational activities have included teaching bioinformatics at The Johns Hopkins University, serving as an adjunct faculty member at Boston University, and lecturing in numerous courses, such as NHGRI’s Current Topics in Genome Analysis series. Until recently, he also served as the Co-Director of the Boston University/NIH Graduate Partnerships Program in Bioinformatics.
Dr. Baxevanis’ accomplishments have been recognized by the Bodossaki Foundation, who awarded him their 2000 Academic Prize in Medicine and Biology; this award is Greece’s highest honor for young academics and scientists of Greek heritage throughout the world. In 2007, Dr. Baxevanis was awarded the IEEE Computer Society’s Outstanding Achievement Award for his outstanding contributions to the field of bioinformatics. In 2014, he was elected to membership in the Johns Hopkins Society of Scholars, which recognizes alumni who have achieved marked distinction in their field of study. Dr. Baxevanis was the recipient of the NIH's Ruth L. Kirschstein Mentoring Award in 2015, in recognition of his commitment to scientific training, education, and mentoring. In 2016, Dr. Baxevanis was elected as a Senior Member of the International Society for Computational Biology for his sustained contributions to the field and, in 2018, he was elected as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science for his distinguished contributions to the field of comparative genomics.
The page was last updated on Friday, March 22, 2019 - 4:16pm