A new center called the National Resource for Network Biology (NRNB), based at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, will help clinicians analyze an ever-growing wealth of complex biological data and apply that knowledge to real problems and diseases.
In recent years, the study of biological networks has exploded, with scientists shifting much of their focus from single cells to complex systems, producing novel maps of interactive networks of genes and proteins that help define and describe a functioning human being. But the exponential growth in data has created a new challenge: How do you effectively use it?
The NRNB is part of the answer, said Trey Ideker, PhD, associate professor of bioengineering in UC San Diego's Jacobs School of Engineering, chief of the Division of Genetics at the School of Medicine and principal investigator of the new center., which is funded by a five-year, $6.5 million grant from the National Institute of Health's National Center for Research Resources (NCRR), and the only center of its type to be funded this year.
"Ten years ago, the Human Genome Project was a huge achievement. It listed for the first time all of the 25,000 or so genes in a human being," said Ideker. "But it didn't and doesn't -- really tell us how those genes work together. For that you need another 'omics data set: the interactome."
An "interactome" describes all of the molecular interactions within cells. For the past decade, a grassroots effort called Cytoscape, developed by Ideker and colleagues, has provided biologists with the beginnings of one: an online, open-source, evolving platform that describes and visualizes complex molecular interactions and biological pathways.
But this gathering of basic data has generally outpaced efforts to practically apply it, said Alexander Pico, PhD, Bioinformatic Group Leader at The Gladstone Institutes at UC San Francisco and executive director of t
|Contact: Scott Lafee|
University of California -- San Diego