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NIH Awards Gene Ontology Consortium $2.7M to Improve Knowledgebase

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – The National Institutes of Health's National Human Genome Research Institute has awarded a $2.7 million grant to the Gene Ontology (GO) Consortium for its 2017 to 2022 grant cycle. This is the most recent grant awarded to the consortium and will go towards the continued expansion and improvement of its computational representation of biological systems, or knowledgebase.

The GO Consortium is a bioinformatics initiative to develop a computational representation of the scientific community's evolving knowledge of gene function in complex biological systems. It includes research collaborations between institutions from all over the world and is co-led by Judith Blake from the Jackson Laboratory, Michael Cherry from Stanford University, Suzanna Lewis from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Paul Sternberg from CalTech, and Paul Thomas from the University of Southern California.

"We are focusing on improvements particularly relative to human gene function, as GO annotations are widely used in biomedical research and play an essential role in interpreting high throughput omics experiments," Thomas said in an email.

The consortium first received funding from the NHGRI in 2001, and has since received a total of $54 million in grant funding from the agency. Over the past five years, the GO's analyses have been used in over 30,000 peer-reviewed papers, Thomas added.

"A particularly innovative part of the new cycle is software and data structures for combining simpler GO annotations into complex systems level representations of gene functions, such as biochemical and regulatory pathways," he further noted. "With these system representations, users of the GO will be able to perform not only the standard enrichment analyses that have been the workhorse in omics experiment interpretation, but also newer, network-based analyses."