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NYU, Natural History Museum to Use $1.6M NSF Grant for Plant Proteome Bioinformatics Research

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The National Science Foundation has given three scientists at New York University and at the American Museum of Natural History a $1.6 million grant to study the proteomes of two plants and to place their data in a public database, NYU said on Wednesday.
The investigators will use the three-year grant to study the structure, evolution, and function of the proteomes of the Arabidopsis thaliana, a small flowering plant that was the first plant to have its genome sequenced, and the rice plant Oryza sativa.
The studies will be conducted by two biologists at NYU’s Center for Genomics and Systems Biology, Richard Bonneau and Michael Purugganan, and by Rod DeSalle at the Sackler Institute for Comparative Genomics at AMNH.
The scientists will map information about the evolutionary importance of certain parts of genes and study how proteins are encoded into the genomes in order to find out what all the proteins are doing. The research will focus on using bioinformatics techniques and will be conducted using the World Community Grid, which is an IBM-supported computing platform that involves 400,000 volunteer computers worldwide.
NYU said that scientists at its Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, which is run by Bonneau, have already used the grid to develop structure predictions for more than 150 genomes.
These methods will be useful for annotating proteins that have unknown functions, and which currently have no detectable similarity to another protein with a known structure. Annotating these proteins means translating the gene sequence into predictions about how the gene functions, NYU said.
The project also will be linked to a continuing education program at NYU’s Steinhardt School for Culture, Education, and Human Development to train teachers how to use bioinformatics in high school science classes.

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