New Faculty: Benjamin King

The College of Natural Sciences, Forestry, and Agriculture brought a wealth of experience and expertise to its community when it welcomed new faculty this year. Over the next few months we will feature new faculty to help you get acquainted with these new members of our community.

Please join us in welcoming Benjamin King as a faculty member to the Department of Molecular and Biomedical Sciences!

Assistant Professor of Bioinformatics

Highest Degree
Ph.D. in Biomedical Science, Graduate School of Biomedical Science and Engineering, University of Maine

My Ph.D. research was focused on regeneration. In my studies, I compared the function and activity of genes in different vertebrates that can regenerate their appendage and heart tissue after injury. A particular focus was on the role genes that do not code for proteins, called microRNAs and long non-coding RNAs. My mentor was Dr. Voot Yin at MDI Biological Laboratory.

Specialty/Research Area
Genomics, Bioinformatics and Computational Biology

When did you discover a passion for your specialty?
My interest in this area began on the first day I worked as a summer student in a computational biology laboratory working on computer-aided drug design the summer before my freshman year at Boston University (BU) in 1990. After being accepted as a mechanical engineering major, I was fortunate to work in two research labs that summer. One was a mechanical engineering laboratory focused on nanofabrication and the other was the computational biology laboratory. I was awestruck by protein structures and the challenge of modeling those structures and decided to change my major that first day.

Why UMaine?
UMaine has excellent and growing faculty and my role as the first faculty member with a background in bioinformatics attracted me to the position. I have been able to collaborate with UMaine faculty the past few years in my role as the bioinformatics core director for the NIH-funded IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE) program that is led by MDI Biological Laboratory. I have a passion for teaching and co-organize courses at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and MDI Biological Laboratory. The opportunity to teach and mentor students was a big draw for me. On a personal note, I grew up in Orono and very much enjoy being back in the community.

What is one thing you look forward to in the coming year?
Starting a new course in bioinformatics that will give both undergraduate and graduate students an introduction to this rapidly expanding field.