Benjamin Johnson, PhD
Dr. Benjamin Johnson is currently a bioinformatics postdoctoral fellow in laboratory of Dr. Hui Shen in the Department of Epigenetics at the Van Andel Institute (VAI) in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Dr. Johnson received his undergraduate degree in Biology from Calvin University. During his undergraduate studies, he worked as a research and teaching assistant as part of the HHMI SEA-PHAGES program, characterizing mycobacteriophage diversity and evolution. A primary thrust of this program was to begin training undergraduates in both experimental and computational techniques, which ultimately led to Dr. Johnson receiving an NSF scientific computing scholarship. He obtained his Ph.D. from Michigan State University, under the supervision of Dr. Robert Abramovitch, investigating Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) pH-dependent adaptations. This work resulted in several publications and a U.S. Patent for identification of a small molecule that disrupts Mtb adaptation to acidic pH in vivo, reducing pathogen virulence. Following his doctoral degree, Dr. Johnson continued to hone his computational skills by joining the Bioinformatics and Biostatistics Core group at VAI. It was during this time that he discovered he wanted to focus his postdoctoral work on the interplay of epigenetics and transcription driving ovarian cancer, leading to him joining the laboratory of Dr. Hui Shen at VAI. His current research focuses on the discovery and characterization of the molecular underpinnings that define the landscape of cellular states and fates in ovarian cancer.