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Hilmar Lapp

Assistant Director for Informatics, National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent)
Durham, North Carolina, United States

Research field: Biological Sciences - Bioinformatics
Reusable and interoperable software, data, and semantics;
Large-scale data integration; Cyberinfrastructure for biology; Building sustainable communities


Biographical Information

My research interests are in reusable and interoperable software and data, large-scale data integration, and in building open, sustainable eScience infrastructure. I am a biologist by training, but I have also more than two decades worth of experience developing various informatics tools and resources, ranging from commercial applications to real-time scientific data acquisition software, to bioinformatics data integration systems, standards, and ontologies.

At NESCent, I am involved with and have helped initiate many of the Center’s cyberinfrastructure initiatives aimed at grass-roots building of community capacity. I brought the hackathon program and Google Summer of Code participation to the Center. I am co-PI of the NSF-funded Phenoscape project ( on ontological annotation of evolutionary phenotype observations, co-convener of the Biodiversity Information Standards (TDWG) Interest Group on Phylogenetics Standards, senior personnel in the Dryad digital data repository for data supporting scientific publications (, and a participant in the Data Integration and Semantics Working Group of DataONE ( Before joining NESCent, I worked for almost 10 years in functional genome informatics in the biopharmaceutical sector, where among other things I built SymAtlas, one of the first decidedly gene-centric database integrating genome annotation databases with gene function data.

I have also been been a long-time advocate of open-source and open development of software. Software I write is free for everyone to reuse, modify, and redistribute. I feel strongly that the open sharing and reuse of all scholarly inputs and outputs is key to accelerating the progress and long-time impact of science, and that the scholarly communication process works best if conducted as openly as possible. I aspire to practice these principles whenever I can, including publishing in open-access journals, and signing my peer reviews, whether positive or negative.


Professional Experience

2011 - Present
President at Open Bioinformatics Foundation (OBF)
Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States
2006 - Present
Assistant Director for Informatics at National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent)
Durham, North Carolina, United States
2000 - Present
Member, Board of Directors at Open Bioinformatics Foundation (OBF)
Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States
Dec 2009 - Dec 2011
Member, Organizing Committee at iEvoBio
Portland, Oregon, United States
Sep 2001 - Apr 2006
Bioinformatics Group Leader at Genomics Institute of the Novartis Research Foundation
San Diego, California, United States
May 1997 - Jul 2001
Bioinformatics Research Associate and Lab Head, Computational Biology & Data Mining at Novartis Research Institute
Vienna, Austria

Oct 1988 - Jan 1997
Institute of Biology II, Albert-Ludwigs-University Freiburg in Freiburg, Germany
Dipl. Biology (M.Sc.)
Sep 1985 - Jun 1987
Department of Biology, Lüdwig-Maximilians University Munich in Munich, Germany
Vordiplom (BS)

Contact Information


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Durham, North Carolina, United States
Main City

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