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Iowa State computer, electrical engineers working to help biologists cope with big data
Date:1/8/2013

initiative to build research teams capable of solving big data problems in next-generation DNA sequencing, systems biology and phenomics. The researchers are developing computing solutions that take advantage of emerging technologies such as cloud computing and high performance computers. They're also building partnerships with technology companies such as IBM, Micron, NVIDIA, Illumina Inc., Life Technologies Corp., Monsanto Co. and Roche.

The project is one of the three Dean's Research Initiatives launched by Jonathan Wickert, former dean of the College of Engineering and currently Iowa State's senior vice president and provost. The initiatives in high throughput computational biology, wind energy and a carbon-negative economy were launched in March 2011 with $500,000 each over three years. That money is to build interdisciplinary, public-private research teams ready to compete for multi-million dollar grants and projects.

Patrick Schnable, Iowa State's Baker Professor of Agronomy and director of the centers for Plant Genomics and Carbon Capturing Crops, remembers when biologists had no interest in working with computer specialists. That was before they tried to work with billions of data points to, say, accurately predict harvests based on plant genotype, soil type and weather conditions.

"Now we're getting huge, absolutely huge, data sets," Schnable said. "There is no way to analyze these data sets without extraordinary computer resources. There's no way we could do this without the collaboration of engineers."

To date, the computational biology initiative has attracted $5.5 million for four major research projects. One of the latest grants is a three-year, $2 million award from the BIGDATA program of the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health. The grant will allow Aluru and researchers from Iowa State, Stanford University, Virginia Tech and the University of Michigan to work together to develop a com
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Contact: Srinivas Aluru
aluru@iastate.edu
515-294-3539
Iowa State University
Source:Eurekalert  

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