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Agilent Launches Grant Program to Encourage Development of 'Omics Integration Tools

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Agilent Technologies plans to award two $75,000 grants to support the development of open source data-integration tools for 'omics research.

The Integrated Biology Grant Program, which the company launched this week, will award the grants to academic and non-profit researchers "developing and/or improving open source, Agilent-compatible software tools to integrate multi-omics data." One grant will fund the development of mass spectrometry informatics, while the other supports the development of software for integrating data from microarrays and next-generation sequencers.

The terms of the grants call for a proof-of-concept prototype or working solution to be demonstrated at the end of one year, "using either existing data sets from the investigator’s own lab or institution, or from new or existing datasets produced at Agilent."

Any tools developed with the funding must be freely available, open source tools for the research community, the company said.

In a description of the program, Agilent said that individual 'omics platforms — including genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics and metabolomics — provide "a global view of a specific cellular process, [but] this view is limited to only one aspect of the biological system. In order to gain a comprehensive understanding of the system as a whole, researchers are faced with the challenge of merging these very different data sets."

The aim of the program is to develop software that will help researchers integrate this data.

The first grant program, called " Validating Protein Pathway Information — Integrating Proteomic Data with Transcriptomic or Metabolomic Data Sets," will fund the development or improvement of "advanced mass spectrometry informatics tools that drive integration of gene expression, metabolomic, and targeted proteomics data."

In particular, the company is seeking proposals "that focus on automation of targeted mass spectrometry-based proteomics experiments … aimed at hypothesis testing or validation of protein pathways and/or interaction networks generated by integrating existing transcriptomic and/or metabolomic datasets."

The second program, Modeling Disease Progression — Combining Gene Expression and Copy Number Variation Data," will support the development of "advanced microarray and next-generation sequencing-based informatics tools to drive the integration of gene expression and genomic copy number data."

Agilent said it is looking for proposals "that focus on the correlation of copy number events and whole transcriptome measurements aimed at hypothesis testing or validation of disease progression models."

The submission deadline for the two initiatives is Aug. 12 and the awards will be announced Sept. 30.

Additional details of the program and application information is available www.chem.agilent.com.