Chris Overall, Ph.D.

I’m an Assistant Professor of Research in the Center for Brain Immunology and Glia (BIG) at the University of Virginia. I was originally trained as a physicist, spent six years working as a software and database developer, and then obtained my PhD in Bioinformatics and Computational Biology. After completing a postdoc in computational biology, I moved to the BIG center, where I now use a systems biology approach to study the complex interplay between the nervous and immune systems in neurological disorders. Central to this is generating, analyzing, and integrating different types of systems-level data, such as gene expression (microarray and RNA-seq), protein-DNA binding (ChIP-seq), and genomic variation (whole genome sequencing). A major research focus of mine is using single cell sequencing to identify cellular sub-populations in a mixed (heterogeneous) sample and to characterize their differences and interactions. However, this is challenging because the molecular profile of a cell can vary substantially in different microenvironments, tissues, and disease states, making it difficult to develop a unique biological signature for a particular cell type. To address this, we are developing new approaches for creating robust single- and multi-omic signatures of different cell types that will allow us to better discriminate between cell types in a heterogeneous sample.