Assistant Professor, Director of BS in Health Data Science
School: Milken Institute School of Public Health
Department: Biostatistics and Bioinformatics
Ali Rahnavard is an assistant professor of Biostatistics and Bioinformatics at George Washington University. Dr. Rahnavard is interested in the intersection of the microbiome and metabolome for understanding their interactions in health and disease. Since the metabolome is the interface mediating this interaction, he primarily investigates metabolite and microbiome changes over the course of disease. His lab uses systems-biology-based approaches, applying computational methods to multi-omic data with the goal of generating hypotheses of the underlying processes involved in disease activity. These hypotheses with strong evidence in measured data are suitable for testing in a laboratory and translation into actionable diagnostics and therapeutics.
The Rahnavard lab also develops novel computational methods to investigate how the microbes in the human gut and metabolites interact with each other and with the host during health and disease. As part of this work, Rahnavard lab developed a computational environment for omics data analysis and integration. This framework includes methods for discovering biological patterns in high-dimensional multi-omic datasets and also analyzing metabolite profiles using liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS). Using computational techniques, Rahnavard characterized microbial behavior at a deep resolution of strain and function (e.g., how microbial species at the strain level are associated with human body sites) by applying statistical methods to several large cohort-based microbiome studies, including the expanded NIH Human Microbiome Project (HMP1-II) study of the healthy human microbiome.
Rahnavard earned his Ph.D. in computer science, applied statistics, and bioinformatics at New Mexico State University. Rahnavard completed postdoctoral work in the biostatistics department at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the Infectious Disease and Microbiome Program at the Broad. Prior to his position with the George Washington University, Rahnavard was a senior computational scientist with the Broad’s Metabolomics Platform. He also holds a master’s degree in computer engineering/software systems from Shiraz University and a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering from Razi University of Kermanshah.