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2011 "Niki" Award Recipient

“for his distinguished contribution to science and his research into the human genome at the MIT Computational Biology Group.”



ΜΙΤ Tenured Αssociate Professor

Manolis Kellis (Καμβυσέλης) is an Associate Professor of Computer Science at MIT, a member of the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory and of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, where he directs the MIT Computational Biology Group (

His research aims to understand the human genome by computational integration of large-scale functional and comparative genomics datasets, with the goal of understanding the molecular mechanism of disease onset and predisposition.  He has developed diverse genomic and epigenomic signatures for systematically annotating the functional elements encoded in genomes, understanding their regulatory circuitry, and their evolutionary principles across species and within the human population.

He has received the US Presidential Early Career Award in Science and Engineering (PECASE) for his NIH R01 work in Computational Genomics, the highest award bestowed by the US government to young scientists. He has also received the NSF CAREER award, the Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship, the Van Tassel and Distinguished Alumnus chairs, the Spira Teaching Award. He was recognized for his research in genomics as one of the top young innovators under the age of 35 by Technology Review Magazine, one of the principal investigators of the future by Genome Technology magazine, and one of three young scientists representing the next generation in biotechnology by the Boston Museum of Science.

Manolis grew up in Athens where he went to dimotiko and gymnasio, and moved to France with his family in 1989 where he entered the French college and then lycee, receiving his French Baccalaureat with the Congratulations of the Jury, the highest distinction in France.  He studied at MIT concurrently with his two siblings Peter and Maria, where he received his Bachelors and Masters degrees in Computer Science, working on Artificial Intelligence, machine vision, robotics,n and computational geometry at MIT and at the Xeros Palo Alto Research Center.

He found his passion for computational biology and joined Eric Lander's research group in 1999, developing general comparative genomics techniques for understanding genomes systematically, first applied to the yeast genome, and later to the fly, mouse, and human genomes. For his Ph.D. work in genomics he received the MIT Sprowls award for the best doctorate thesis in computer science, and the first Paris Kanellakis graduate fellowship.

He joined the MIT Computer Science Department as an Assistant Professor in 2004, he became an Associate Professor in 2007, and a tenured Associated Professor in 2011. His group is currently funded to carry out integrative analysis for the ENCODE, modENCODE, and Epigenome Roadmap projects.

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Students' Views

"My days in Athens and at AIT were more than pleasant and definitely an important milestone in my life. This stay helped me in many things: a) the privilege to live in a small international community gathered in one place, b) gave me the basic skills and expertise to enter the community and daily life’s work. On the other hand, I got the opportunity to meet some great people from different backgrounds who share the same passion with me, I enjoyed very much living with them, the souvlakis in the Lab, not to forget the late night discussions with my colleagues."

Ghassan El Abdallah, MSITT 2005 (Lebanon)

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