Haibao Tang

Robert C. Anderson Memorial Award 2011

Haibao Tang, senior bioinformatics engineer, J. Craig Venter Institute, devised a novel ‘top-down’ computational method to clarify the evolution of angiosperms (flowering plants). His work set the stage for dramatic improvements in the precision of translational genomics, since his method can be applied to many plants, from botanical models to major crops—and even more complex systems.

While working in the lab of plant biologist Andrew Paterson, Tang realized that to apply mammalian comparative genomics to flowering plants was fundamentally flawed. Tang’s method revealed surprising properties of the earliest angiosperm genomes, and dramatically improved scientists’ ability to discern correspondence between the genomes of monocots and dicots in the deepest branches in the angiosperm tree.

Tang published several first-author papers in top journals and has coauthored 16 additional publications on this work. His research also provided the foundation for a grant of more than $400,000 from the National Science Foundation to enhance the online database he helped create.