The University of Ulster has an international reputation for excellence and innovation.  Its research is characterised by its capacity to shape the future of lives and society through relevant and pioneering research, delivering a range of economic, social or cultural benefit from research of the highest quality. The University plays a major role in the local economy as a linchpin of investment and economic growth. To support its endeavours, Ulster has 15 Research Institutes specialising in areas such as health, environmental sciences, intelligent systems, biomedical sciences, coastal and marine research and art and design. In the most recent UK Research Excellence Framework (REF2014) cycle, Ulster’s research environment was awarded an unprecedented 100% 4* (world-leading); 95% of Ulster research impact was scored world leading (4*) and internationally excellent (3*) and 81% of research published papers were judged to be world leading and internationally excellent (4* and 3*).

The School of Biomedical Sciences at Ulster University is no. 5 within the UK for Biosciences education. Ulster‘s Biomedical Science Research Institute (BMSRI) undertakes cutting edge research in biomedical sciences and focuses on translating its research for societal benefit. The Northern Ireland Centre for Stratified Medicine (NICSM), a partnership between the BMSRI, C-TRIC and the Western Health and Social Care Trust, aims to place Ulster and Northern Ireland at the frontier of pioneering research in personalized medicine. This £11.5 million centre of excellence, launched in October 2013, hosts vibraint teams of researchers with complementary expertise, including biomedical/clinical scientists with different disease specialities, and computational, statistical/bioinformatics experts with extensive experience in big data analytics. The centre provides an excellent environment to enable and accelerate interdisciplinary research that can better identify drugs or treatments that meet the specific needs of individual patients.

Shu-Dong Zhang is a Senior Lecturer in Bioinformatics at NICSM, Ulster. His research interest includes the development of computational, statistical, and bioinformatics methods and their applications in biomedical, pharmacological and toxicological studies. His group has built up strong expertise and capacity in high throughput omics data analysis, pushing forward at three fronts in this research filed: algorithm design, novel applications and software development. As an expert in gene expression connectivity mapping, Dr. Zhang and his team will be responsible for carrying out connectivity mapping related parts of Work Package 4 in the current programme.