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UT-Austin Scientist Snags $2.5M NIH Pioneer Award

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – A University of Texas at Austin investigator has won a $2.5 million award from the National Institutes of Health to fund his lab's efforts to develop a systems biology-based method to map relationships between genes and proteins, the university said yesterday.

UT-Austin Professor Edward Marcotte will use the five-year NIH Director's Pioneer Award to develop a highly parallel method for identifying and quantifying individual proteins in samples that could be useful in diagnosing cancer and in characterizing proteins and discovering new biomarkers.

"It will have broad applications across biology and medicine," Marcotte, who is co-director of the Center for Systems and Synthetic Biology in the College of Natural Sciences, said in a statement.

He noted that next-generation sequencing has "transformed biology," but he also explained that identifying specific proteins still poses a challenge.

"Unfortunately, no method of similar scale and throughput yet exists to identify and quantify specific proteins in complex mixtures, representing a critical bottleneck in many biochemical, molecular diagnostic, and biomarker discovery assays," Marcotte said.

The research in Marcotte's lab focuses on large-scale organization of proteins, specifically seeking to understand how the proteins in a genome are associated into functional pathways, systems, and networks. These efforts involve using computational approaches and experimental studies involving high-throughput functional genomics and proteomics to study thousands of genes and proteins in parallel, according to the Marcotte Lab website.