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UCSD's New Center to Provide Informatics Tools for Biological Systems Research

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A new center that will be housed at the University of California, San Diego, aims to provide researchers with tools to analyze and develop models of the complex interactions in large biological systems.

The center, dubbed the National Resource for Network Biology, is funded by a five-year, $6.5 million grant from the National Center for Research Resources and is the fourth NCRR biomedical technology center based at UC San Diego.

Others include the National Center for Microscopy and Imaging Research; the National Biomedical Computation Resource; and the Center for Computational Mass Spectrometry.

Trey Ideker, associate professor of bioengineering at UC San Diego and the principal investigator on the grant, said in a statement that the NRNB is part of the answer to the data analysis challenges that arise in studies involving large biological systems. Ideker and his colleagues developed the open source platform Cytoscape as a resource to help describe and visualize complex molecular interactions and biological pathways.

Other collaborators on the NRNB project include James Fowler, a professor at UCSD; Bruce Conklin of the Gladstone Institutes; Chris Sander of the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center; Gary Bader of the University of Toronto; and Benno Schwikowski of Institut Pasteur in France.

In a similar vein, UCSD recently received two NIH grants to develop tools and methods to gather and analyze biomedical data generated by universities and institutes around the US.

A five-year, $16.7 million grant will be used to create the Integrating Data for Analysis, Anonymization, and Sharing, or iDASH, center that will develop algorithms, open-source tools, and computational infrastructure and services to help scientists share and use anonymized research data.

An $8.3 million grant will fund the three-year development of the Scalable National Network for Effectiveness, or SCANNER, which aims to create computational systems and architecture to exchange health information collected at the point of care (BI 10/29/2010).

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