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NSF Awards $50M to Five Institutes Under Computational Plant Biology Initiative

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The National Science Foundation yesterday said it has granted $50 million to create a national cyberinfrastructure center for plant biology that will employ genomics and genetics sciences, along with various biological and computational sciences.   
The University of Arizona's BIO5 Institute will lead the so-called iPlant Collaborative, and will be joined by researchers at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Arizona State University, the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, and Purdue University. 
The program will “bring together researchers from every area within plant biology – molecular and cellular biologists, geneticists, genome scientists, as well as experts on ecosystems and biosystem diversity – by building infrastructure through which they can more readily interact and collaborate,” CSHL said in a statement.
NSF said in a statement that the initiative will rely on information generated through the National Plant Genome Initiative, "enabling more breadth and depth of research in every aspect of plant science."
The research will include interdisciplinary science, “for instance, plant genome experts working side-by-side with mathematicians and statisticians to interpret the results of innovative microarray scans of genomic mutations,” CSHL said.
“The idea is to develop an all-encompassing computer- and internet-based infrastructure that will transform the way plant science is done, and that will be accessible, at different levels, by scientists across the disciplines and across the planet,” Lincoln Stein, CSHL researcher and co-principal investigator of the collaborative, said in a statement.
Through its Dolan DNA Learning Center, CSHL also will work with other researchers to link plant research to education, and will create video and audio podcasts to publicize the iPlant initiative.
The five-year iPlant Collaborative potentially renewable for a second five years and a total of $100 million, NSF said.

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