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CINJ Launches Biomed Informatics Program


Fortifying its research efforts in bioinformatics, the Cancer Institute of New Jersey launched a new biomedical informatics program to be led by Gunaretnam Rajagopal, the founding executive director of the Bioinformatics Institute at Singapore's Biopolis.

At an informational event sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and the Cancer Institute of New Jersey in late March, Rajagopal and David Foran, director of the Cancer Institute's Center for Biomedical Imaging Informatics, emphasized novel approaches to software development, grid computing, and personalized medicine.

Rajagopal, who serves as the institute's executive director in bioinformatics within its new cancer informatics core, has already launched his first pilot project: a data integration initiative called PopWeb. The idea is to build a statewide data warehouse and biospecimen repository over the next four years that will marry genomic and clinical data to predict specific treatment options for cancer patients.

PopWeb will be linked to an existing cyberinfrastruture called the NJEdge network, a broadband network of academic and research institutions in New Jersey. It will also be integrated into NCI's biomedical informatics grid, caBIG.

During a presentation, Rajagopal said that PopWeb will help facilitate translational research, including the development of biomarkers in collaboration with industry partners. The project is expected to contribute to integrative research efforts in cancer, stem cell biology, and regenerative medicine. It will also involve collaboration with population sciences colleagues at various institutions on issues related to cancer prevention, control, treatment, and survivorship, as well as economic and racial disparity issues.

The project entails deploying scalable computational and storage resources. There will also be Web-based services, multimedia tools, and software engineering expertise for large-scale data collection, storage, annotation, integration, and mining of research and clinical data.

Vivien Marx

Bioinformatics Notes

QuantumBio won an SBIR grant totaling more than $865,000 from NIH to develop molecular modeling software tools. The two-year, Phase II SBIR project will develop quantum mechanics-based methods for studying protein/drug interactions.

RemedyMD and GulfStream Bioinformatics entered into an agreement to integrate their informatics products for translational research. RemedyMD will incorporate GulfStream's 75 disease models into its Investigate data-management platform and is also integrating GulfStream's biospecimen management system.

SGI announced that the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center will adopt a new Altix 4700 system for biomedical research. The system includes 144 processors and 288 GB of memory.


The number of pathway databases generated by SGI International's Pathway Tools software to date.

Funded Grants

System-wide Study of Transcriptional Control of Metabolism
Grantee: William Hlavacek, Los Alamos National Lab
Began: May. 1, 2007; Ends: Apr. 30, 2009
Hlavacek and his colleagues will use this funding for a system-wide study of integrated transcriptional and metabolic networks in the K-12 strain of E. coli, aiming at a similar analysis of the Bacillus anthracis pathogen. The resources of MAGnet NCBC, specifically the algorithms within the geWorkbench bioinformatics platform, will be used to reconstruct cellular networks.

Metagenomic analysis of the human virome
Grantee: Eric Delwart, Blood Systems Research Institute
Began: Apr. 1, 2007; Ends: Mar. 31, 2011
Delwart and his colleagues aim to continue to conduct a metagenomic survey of the human virome and develop virus-specific bioinformatics methods that will facilitate the detection of phylogenetically close as well as distant relatives of known viral species. Initial viral sequence similarity matches will be followed by full viral genome sequencing and phylogenetic analysis.

The Scan

Dropped Charges

The US Justice Department has dropped visa fraud charges against five Chinese researchers, according to the Wall Street Journal.

More Kids

The Associated Press says Moderna is expanding its SARS-CoV-2 vaccine study to included additional children and may include even younger children.

PNAS Papers on Rat Clues to Human Migration, Thyroid Cancer, PolyG-DS

In PNAS this week: ancient rat genome analysis gives hints to human migrations, WDR77 gene mutations in thyroid cancer, and more.

Purnell Choppin Dies

Purnell Choppin, a virologist who led the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, has died at 91, according to the Washington Post.