Priyanka Baloni, PhD

Priyanka Baloni, PhD

Things we learned:

    • It is important to learn coding if you want to pursue study and research in computational biology. Python, R, and Java are all good languages to get started with


  • Makes weekly to-do lists and uses them as a way to balance her FOUR projects!


  • Communication is vital in a scientific position and she uses it daily
  • Her favorite part of ISB is how easy it is to talk to someone and gain expertise from an expert; people are always talking about science, not just during working hours
  • Pursue whatever really interests you, and think carefully about your path. Don’t let your peers persuade you into doing something that’s not for you
  • The most difficult part of pursuing her major in zoology was the dissections
  • She likes the computational side of systems biology because she can use various approaches to get the solution and also work on it from anywhere, like at home, which isn’t a flexibility that everyone in research has


Where are you from? Where did you grow up? How did this affect your path to get where you are today?

  • Undergrad in Zoology
  • Masters in Microbiology and PhD in Systems Biology
  • All schooling in India
  • In high school, you have to opt for either Science or Commerce in India
  • Both parents are professors in Commerce faculty and her siblings studied various streams of science (Chemistry, Physics, and Biology)
  • Best decision was choosing science in high school and pursuing her career in the field of Systems Biology
  • India has lesser resources that the US has for research. US has more state-of-the-art facilities as compared to India
  • Originally wanted to be a medical doctor but did not get qualify via a test. If given the option to become a medical doctor now, would not because of the education time
  • Came to ISB 2 years ago after meeting Nathan Price in India
  • Most difficult part of pursuing a science degree was the dissections during bachelors, running gels during masters and learning programming languages during PhD


What are your projects at ISB?

  • Works with constraint-based models, making these models context-specific, multi-omics analysis, networks and statistical analysis
  • PhD was on understanding host-pathogen interactions during latent tuberculosis infection
  • My first project in ISB: Construction of rat liver metabolic model to understand effect of diet restriction and drugs
  • Reconstruction of human brain metabolic networks to understand the role of bile acids in Alzheimer’s disease. The data for model is obtained from post-mortem brain tissue of Alzheimer’s patients. They also use metabolic information from plasma samples of Alzheimer’s patients. Based on the outcome of the analysis, they are hoping to experimentally validate their findings
  • She is also working to reconstruct human placenta metabolic network to understand metabolic changes in placenta during pregnancy


What advice would you give to someone interested in the STEM field?

  • Pursue whatever really interests you, and think carefully about your path. Don’t let your peers persuade you into doing something that’s not for you
  • Try and establish a good foundation in science and you can build on it later
  • Important programing languages to learn: Python, R, Java


What are your short/long term goals?

  • Would like to pursue her career in academics and had the opportunity to teach undergrads in UW, Seattle as part of the STEP program.


Work environment:

  • Her colleagues are helpful and it’s easy to discuss the scientific issues with them
  • Works in the office at ISB but also gets to work from home, since she’s focusing on the Computational side of things
  • Working from home is an advantage because it is helps when she has to do lots of writing work
  • Her job requires her to be good at communication, coding, science, etc.


Favorite part of ISB:

  • How easy it is to talk to someone and gain expertise from an expert
  • People are always talking about science
  • Her team is very friendly


Fun facts:

  • Owns a dog, border collie mix, who was adopted from a shelter
  • Doesn’t have a favorite superhero, but thinks Captain America is the most good-looking avenger
  • Likes to read fictions and favorite novelist is John Grisham
  • Loves cooking Indian food