© 2000 - 2014 Virginia Bioinformatics Institute
Friday, 18 April 2014
Sobral, Bruno , Ph.D.
Faculty - Sobral, Bruno

Adjunct Faculty
Professor, Department of Plant Pathology, Physiology and Weed Science, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

Phone: (540) 231-2317
Email: sobral@vt.edu
Fax: 540-231-6191

Cyberinfrastructure Division | Publications


  • Administrative Assistant: Kimberly Clifton
    Phone: (540) 231-9882
    Email: kimvt05@vbi.vt.edu

Professional Preparation

  • Iowa State University, Genetics, Ph.D., 1989
  • Staff Scientist, California Institute of Biological Research (CIBR), La Jolla, CA USA, 1991-1995
  • President, Genetica Americas, La Jolla, CA USA, 1995-1998
  • Director, Agricultural Genomics, National Center for Genome Resources, Santa Fe, NM USA, 1998
  • Vice President of Scientific Programs, National Center for Genome Resources, Santa Fe, NM USA, 1999-2000
  • Founding Executive and Scientific Director, The Virginia Bioinformatics Institute, and Professor of Plant Physiology, Pathology and Weed Science, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA USA, 2000-2009
  • Adjunct Professor of Cancer Biology, Comprehensive Cancer Center Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, NC USA, 2004-present
  • Pofessor and Director, Cyberinfrastructure Division, VBI, and Professor of Plant Pathology, Physiology and Weed Science, 2009-present

Research Interests

  • Development and deployment of cyberinfrastructure supporting infectious disease research
  • Alpha-proteobacteria, using the Sinorhizobium meliloti-Medicago truncatula symbiosis as a model system, and their strategies and success as intracellular bacteria
  • Comparative biology of intra- and extracellular forms of alpha-proteobacteria
  • Comparative genomics, especially of alpha-proteobacteria, focused on evolution and dynamics of intracellular lifestyles across multiple bacterial-host systems
  • Transdisciplinary partnerships aimed at supporting the development of vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics against infectious agents
  • Computational Systems Biology
  • Translational Informatics


Bruno Sobral is the Director of the Cyberinfrastructure Division of VBI. He was the founding executive and scientific director and professor of VBI, through February 2009, and is a professor in the Department of Plant Pathology, Physiology and Weed Science at Virginia Tech. He received his Ph.D. in genetics from Iowa State University in 1989. He has worked for a number of international research organizations, including Genetica Americas, the Center for Applications of Molecular Biology to International Agriculture, and the California Institute of Biological Research and has held adjunct faculty appointments at New Mexico State University, University of New Mexico, and San Diego State University. Prior to joining VBI, he served as vice president of scientific programs at the National Center for Genome Resources.

Dr Sobral's research interests include bacterial genetics, especially with respect to intracellular pathogens, commensals and symbionts, and information systems design, development, deployment and evolution, mostly focused on bioinformatics, translational informatics and computational systems biology. His Cyberinfrastructure Division is expert at building, deploying, and evolving large-scale 24x7x365 information systems that support biomedical data acquisition, integration, analysis, and discovery for diverse user communities and constituencies. There is a strong focus on usability engineering using human-computer interactions principles in all the information systems that the team builds and deploys, so that end users of the systems are considered in depth from the outset of the design phases through participative development processes, with iterative deployment cycles and agile development methods. Research and development focuses on high-performance, distributed computational infrastructure for the biological research community. The division is also expanding into modeling and simulation of immunological response, primarily focused on chronic inflammatory disorders. There is a strong integration of laboratory expertise and technologies and informatics expertise and technologies throughout the division.

Selected Publications

Williams KP, Sobral BW, Dickerman AW. A robust species tree for the alphaproteobacteria. J Bacteriol. 2007;189:4578–4586.

Dyer MD, Murali TM, Sobral BW. The landscape of human proteins interacting with viruses and other pathogens. PLoS Pathog. 2008;4:e32.

Gillespie JJ, Ammerman NC, Dreher-Lesnick SM, et al. An anomalous type IV secretion system in Rickettsia is evolutionarily conserved. PLoS One. 2009;4:e4833.

Demir E, Cary MP, Paley S, et al. The BioPAX community standard for pathway data sharing. Nat Biotech. 2010;28:935–942.

Dyer MD, Neff C, Dufford M, et al. The human-bacterial pathogen protein interaction networks of Bacillus anthracis, Francisella tularensis, and Yersinia pestis. PLoS One. 2010;5:e12089.