May 9, 2002
Vol. 21 No. 15

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    University chosen as Sun Center of Excellence

    By Catherine Gianaro
    Medical Center Public Affairs

    The University has been selected by Sun Microsystems as a Sun Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics, Computational Biology and Medical Informatics.

    The designation by the company––a leading provider of computer hardware, software and services––not only includes equipment and technology for the University, but also the opportunity for University researchers to collaborate with scientists at other Sun Centers of Excellence.

    “Our relationship with Sun reflects the importance that is now being placed on computational and informatics sciences in basic biological and clinical research,” said Nancy Cox, Associate Professor in Human Genetics and Scientific Director of the Bioinformatics and Computational Biology Core Facility.

    The University joins Sun’s community of academic institutions, including the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Virginia Bioinformatics Institute, Delaware Biotechnology Institute, Beijing Genomics Institute and the University of Calgary, to conduct groundbreaking research in the rapidly expanding field of computational biology.

    “The last decade has seen a revolution in biomedical research,” said Bruce Lahn, Assistant Professor in Human Genetics, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator and Steering Committee Member of the Bioinformatics Core. “Suddenly, we can flash the entire genetic blueprint of a complex organism on the screen, which was inconceivable just a decade ago.”

    The analysis and storage of large amounts of data are essential in all aspects of biological research, especially genomics, structural biology and molecular evolutionary genetics. The same can be said for the clinical sciences, where large volumes of patient data must be warehoused and analyzed. The sequencing of the human genome and other genomes, along with anonymous patient clinical and genetic data, are providing researchers with unparalleled opportunities to answer longstanding biological questions and, in turn, discover new ways to treat human disease.

    With a wealth of new data available from the genomes of human and other organisms, however, come the challenges of efficiently managing that data and providing the necessary tools to analyze it.

    The University’s new Center of Excellence will help meet that challenge. It will enable researchers to develop a data warehouse that links genomic data to patient genetic and clinical data, provide an efficient means of processing that biological and clinical data, and develop tools to mine that data in biologically and medically meaningful ways.