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Director of bioinformatics, American International Biotechnology LLC
Adjunct faculty, Center for the Study of Biological Complexity
B.S. in Bioinformatics, 2009
M.S. in Bioinformatics, 2010
Ph.D. in Integrative Life Sciences, 2012
After working as a paramedic for a number of years following his time as a student of emergency health sciences at the University of Virginia, William Budd, Ph.D., found himself at a crossroads.
“When I worked in health care,” he said, “people kept saying things like, ‘Oh, we don’t know that information, you don’t need to worry about that,’ and that wasn’t good enough for me. I really wanted to dig deeper and understand things at a more molecular level, and that’s what really attracted me to bioinformatics.”
A mix of mathematics, statistics, biology and computer science, bioinformatics entails building databases to house biological data such as DNA samples, as well as developing algorithms and other computational approaches to analyze that data in a way that can aid researchers in better understanding everything from disease processes to river ecology.
“But even though I wanted to dig deeper,” Budd continued, “I was still interested in things that had clinical applicability, and I discovered that same philosophy here at VCU. It wasn’t just theoretical.”
Now in the private sector, Budd focuses primarily on interpreting the clinical samples of patients to determine how they metabolize and react to medications based on their genetic background, which can help physicians more accurately tailor drug therapies. He credits his professors for helping him gain the experience he needed to hit the ground running professionally so soon after graduation.
“It wasn’t just that I found professors who were using the types of techniques I was interested in,” Budd said. “It was the fact that, right away, they were willing to bring me into their research projects and let me run with my ideas. I was always made to feel like my input was valuable, and that’s something I carry on as a teacher myself.”
In more than a decade spent in VCU Life Sciences, Budd has gone from a first-responder hungry for a better way to understand patients and disease, to a leader in his field who can share that expertise as an adjunct professor with those following in his footsteps — many of whom share the same desire.
“This year, I’ve had more students who are going into medical school than ever before, and I think we’re going to continue to see that merging of bioinformatics and medical sciences,” he said. “They want the ability to be able to answer some questions on their own, and they realize, just as I did, that they can use bioinformatics to make a difference in people’s lives.”