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Siebel Scholars Foundation
1300 Seaport Blvd., Suite 400
Redwood City, CA 94063


(650) 299-5260

2010 - Julio Ng

Julio Ng, a Ph.D. candidate in Bioengineering at the University of California, San Diego, is using his computer science skills to develop computational tools that change the landscape of drug discovery and manufacture by quickly identifying biologically active compounds found in nature using mass spectrometry. Biologists use mass spectrometry—a technique used to identify chemical and biological molecules by measuring their mass/charge ratio when they are ionized and introduced to the instrument—to separate and identify proteins present in the body in times of wellness and illness.  In the area of drug discovery, natural products play a crucial role in the development of effective drugs to treat illnesses. In fact, a large fraction of commercial drugs either occur naturally in the environment, or are derived from their natural counterparts. Identification of natural products is the first step for the discovery of new drugs, a stage that traditionally required enormous manual labor. In the past, the results of mass spectrometry produced such large and unmanageable quantities of data that scientists were unable to identify the organic compounds effective in treating illness and disease, but now, with novel algorithmic advances in data interpretation integrated in user-friendly web tools like Julio’s, scientists can accelerate their efforts.
The son of Chinese immigrants, Julio was born in Costa Rica, raised in Venezuela, and was not fluent in English upon arriving alone in New York after his high school graduation. Two years later, Julio was accepted to UCSD, where he began studying computer science.  He became fascinated with computational biology and its implications and potential for improving modern medicine, and earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Computer Science with Specialization in Bioinformatics in 2005.  He decided to focus on improving the algorithms and visualization tools biologists use to identify compounds more quickly – accelerating discoveries and solutions in areas such as cancer research and genome mapping.  After completing his undergraduate degree, Julio began his graduate work in the Interdisciplinary Graduate Bioinformatics Program at University of California, San Diego.

In his spare time, Julio develops websites, and likes to incorporate the latest user interface designs for consumer sites into his bioinformatics work.  He’ll celebrate the 10th anniversary of his arrival in San Diego next fall.