Winston Hide, Ph.D.

Professor of Computational Biology
University of Sheffield

Winston Hide earned a Ph.D. at Temple University and performed post-doctoral training in molecular evolution at the University of Texas in Houston, the Baylor College of Medicine at the Human Genome Sequencing Center with Richard Gibbs and at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. His first paper, published in Nature, was a controversial analysis of rodent evolution—using molecular phylogenetics, he questioned the membership of guinea pigs in the rodentia.

Dr. Hide’s first position was as director of genomics at MasPar high-performance computer corporation in Silicon Valley, California. He went on to found and direct the South African National Bioinformatics Institute (SANBI) at the University of Western Cape in 1996. He established the first Ph.D. program in bioinformatics in Africa and is a founder of the African Society of Bioinformatics and Computational Biology; he was the first African on the board of the International Society of Computational Biology. At SANBI he founded the Medical Research Council Unit for Bioinformatics Capacity Development and established the World Health Organization regional training center for bioinformatics. An author of the National Biotechnology Strategy for South Africa, he founded the South African National Bioinformatics Network. Focusing on the development of Africa’s peoples, he is a founding member of the steering committee that established the NIH-Wellcome Trust-funded Pan African H3 Africa genome Initiative. Together with a group from WHO, Yale, and the U.S. Sanger Center, he established the International Glossina Genome Initiative in 2005, which culminated in the publication of the tsetse fly genome in 2014. Dr. Hide received the first International Society for Computational Biology award for outstanding achievement in recognition of these activities.

Dr. Hide was, until recently, associate professor of bioinformatics and computational biology in the Department of Biostatistics at the Harvard School of Public Health, where he led development of bioinformatics addressing personal genomics approaches to public health, and where he directed the HSPH Bioinformatics Core. He developed the bioinformatics strategy for the Harvard Stem Cell Institute and was director of its Center for Stem Cell Bioinformatics, where he built a science commons for big data sharing and integration.

His research addresses integration of omics data to deliver clinical translation of genomics for application to repurposing of drugs, to determine prioritized drug targets and to deliver prediction to predisposition to disease. He uses standardized approaches to discovery in stem cells and cancer stem cells, host response to pathogens, and complex diseases such as motor neuron diseases and Alzheimer’s disease. Dr. Hide directs bioinformatics for the Alzheimer’s Genome Project™ (Cure Alzheimer’s Fund); he has built the computational infrastructure for, and analyzed, 1,400 whole genome sequences from patients with the disease.

Hide now is chair in computational biology at the University of Sheffield, where he drives development of systems medicine and genome translation at the Sheffield Institute for Translational Neurosciences.      

He has published widely used tools for organization of gene expression and developed novel approaches to in silico complex disease gene discovery. Recent work has established a standard for communication of experimental information across omics technologies that has been applied in stem cell systems to integrate data across cancers and now explains consistent pathway activities across species and platforms.

He has received the South African National Research Foundation Presidents’ award, the Oppenheimer Trust Sabbatical Award and the first International Society for Computational Biology Outstanding Achievement award. Hide is a member of the Academy of Science of South Africa.

Funded Research

Project Description Researchers Funding
CIRCUITS: Utilizing Functional Maps to Prioritize Therapeutic Targets in Alzheimer’s Disease

Discovery of the causes of and treatment for Alzheimer’s is confounded by the complexity of the disease, the interplay between environment and genetic bases of disease and the disparate approaches taken by groups to look at specific aspects of the disease. Progress has been slow and there is an urgent need to deliver treatments that are effective and have few side effects. Current studies seek specific genes as treatment targets. Usually there is a strong bias by a single group as to which genes and processes they think are responsible for the disease. Failure rates are high.