Brett McKinney

Brett McKinney

Assistant ProfessorWilliam K. Warren, Jr., Chair in BioinformaticsRayzor Hall #2145 and Lab #2058
(918) 631-3444
brett-mckinney@utulsa.eduMcKinney Laboratory for Bioinformatics and In Silico Modeling

Dr. McKinney holds the William K. Warren, Jr., Endowed Chair in Bioinformatics at The University of Tulsa, where he has a joint appointment in the Department of Mathematics and Tandy School of Computer Science. He is a native Tulsan who did his undergraduate work summa cum laude at The University of Tulsa in mathematics and physics. He did his graduate work at the University of Oklahoma, obtaining a Ph.D. in theoretical physics, followed by a postdoctoral fellowship in biomathematics and computational biology at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center. He was an assistant professor in the Department of Genetics at the University of Alabama Birmingham School of Medicine before joining TU in 2009.

Education and Degrees Earned

  • Ph.D., Physics, University of Oklahoma (2003)
  • M.S., Physics, University of Oklahoma (1999)
  • B.S., Mathematics & Physics, Summa Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa, The University of Tulsa (1996)

Areas of Academic Specialty

Dr. McKinney's doctoral dissertation in theoretical and mathematical physics involved the development of a quantum many-body perturbation theory applied to Bose-Einstein condensates and quantum nanostructures in arbitrary dimensions. Excited by developments in the human genome project, he turned his attention from studying physical interactions between atoms and molecules to studying statistical interactions in biological networks. At TU, Dr. McKinney’s computational biology research group is dedicated to developing statistical, mathematical, and machine learning approaches to characterize networks of gene-gene interactions and other biomarkers that are pathologically altered. For example, his lab is particularly interested in understanding genetic mechanisms for the human response to vaccines such as anthrax, smallpox and influenza. In collaboration with researchers at the Laureate Institute for Brain Research (LIBR) his lab is developing techniques for integrating genetic and functional neuroimage data for understanding interactions that influence brain disorders.

Areas of Research Focus

The goal of Dr. McKinney's computational biology lab is to develop statistical and machine learning approaches to characterize network motifs of genes and other biomarkers that are pathologically altered.  His lab is particularly interested in understanding the genetics of human response to vaccines, such as influenza, smallpox and anthrax, and the gene-neural network interactions that influence disorders such as bipolar and major depression.

Previous Teaching Experience

Prior to returning to the University of Tulsa in 2009, Dr. McKinney was an assistant professor in the Department of Genetics at the University of Alabama Birmingham School of Medicine.

Previous Relevant Work Experience

After completing the Ph.D. in theoretical physics, Dr. McKinney was a postdoctoral fellow at Vanderbilt University's Center for Human Genetics Research and Program in Biomathematics.