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PITT AND CARNEGIE MELLON RECEIVE $2 MILLION GRANT TO ESTABLISH COMPUTATIONAL BIOLOGY CENTER

 PITT AND CARNEGIE MELLON RECEIVE $2 MILLION GRANT
 TO ESTABLISH COMPUTATIONAL BIOLOGY CENTER
 PITTSBURGH, Aug. 7 /PRNewswire/ -- The University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University have received a $2 million grant from the W.M. Keck Foundation of Los Angeles to establish an advanced training program in computational biology.
 Called the W.M. Keck Center for Advanced Training in Computational Biology, the facility will be operated jointly by Pitt and Carnegie Mellon. It is being formed to take advantage of promising new interdisciplinary approaches to biomedical research that combine the latest advances in biology and computer science.
 Commenting on the award, Carnegie Mellon President Robert Mehrabian said, "We are most grateful to the Keck Foundation for this grant, which will link the immense power of new computer technologies to the immensely important causes of advancing biomedical science and bettering human health care."
 Pitt Chancellor J. Dennis O'Connor said, "We are particularly pleased that this new program is a collaborative venture between our university and Carnegie Mellon, drawing on our respective strengths of computer science and biomedicine. I believe we are entering an era in which our two neighboring universities will find creative new ways to join intellectual forces with tremendous potential to serve the good of Pittsburgh and the good of American science."
 The $2 million grant will support the center's first three years of operation, after which it is expected to be self-supporting. The center will begin training this fall with four graduate students and three post-doctoral fellows, each of whom has been specially recruited for their backgrounds in biology and computer science. By the third year, the center is expected to expand to at least 10 graduate students and six post-doctoral fellows.
 The center will be co-directed by Bruce Buchanan, professor of computer science, philosophy, and medicine at Pitt; and Susan Henry, professor of biological sciences and dean of the Mellon College of Science at Carnegie Mellon.
 "Computational biology is exciting, partly because it is not well defined," said Buchanan. "It includes problems in the biological sciences that require computers, and problems in computer science that arise out of biological research. Over 50 scientists on both campuses are involved in computational biology in some way, and we are very pleased that the W.M. Keck Foundation recognizes the excellence of researchers in Pittsburgh."
 Commenting on the nature of the center's work, Henry said: Many of the most important problems in biomedical research will be solved only by interdisciplinary approaches that involve sophisticated computational methods, yet most biologists are not sufficiently trained to use these methods. In addition, most computer scientists are not sufficiently knowledgeable about biology for the two types of scientists to participate in productive collaboration.
 "The W.M. Keck Center," she added, "will bridge this gap, bringing biomedical scientists and computer scientists together in generating exciting new research possibilities."
 Training will take place in the biology and computer science labs and classrooms at both universities, and at the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center, which is operated by Pitt, Carnegie Mellon and Westinghouse Electric Corp.
 Computational biology is a relatively new field in which biological scientists explore the frontiers of molecular biology with today's new generation of powerful computers and supercomputers. Computer scientists also apply their expanding fields of knowledge to the rapidly changing biomedical context. The results are expected to produce a new generation of clinical drugs and treatments for a variety of human ailments and diseases, and to advance biomedical knowledge.
 Some of the training and research at the center will include the structure and function of biological macromolecules. This involves the simple analysis of primary DNA or protein sequence, and computer-aided searches for homology. Scientists at Pitt and Carnegie Mellon are also interested in the three-dimensional structure of biological macromolecules, using computer-aided analysis of NMR (nuclear magnetic resonance) or x-ray crystallography data, and in other forms of biological modeling.
 In addition, scientists are interested in exploring biological problems that involve non-numerical properties where symbolic reasoning replaces mathematics. Examples include planning sequences of laboratory activities, constructing linkage maps with kinship data, or determining the sequence of reactions in a biochemical pathway.
 Finally, the center will explore the frontiers of biomedical computer visualization as a tool for the analysis and presentation of new information. Examples include the time lapse display of chemical and molecular changes in living cells and tissues using fluorescence light microscope tomography, visualization of organs and entire organisms using NMR imaging techniques, and the three-dimensional structural solution of protein-DNA interactions from x-ray crystallographic data.
 The center's interdisciplinary training program will cover the range of numeric and symbolic computation for biological problems. Trainees in the center's academic programs may earn master's or doctorate level degrees in computational biology, and may go on to postdoctoral work.
 Graduate students and post-doctoral fellows in computer science and biology will be trained side by side in an interactive environment to encourage synergy through collaboration. The training program will be centered initially around four primary academic units: the Pitt and Carnegie Mellon departments of biological sciences, and the Pitt and Carnegie Mellon departments of computer science, plus the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center.
 However, many other academic departments from both universities are expected to participate in the program, as well.
 -0- 8/7/92
 /CONTACT: Bob Reteshka of University of Pittsburgh, 412-624-4007/ CO: University of Pittsburgh; Carnegie Mellon University; Pittsburgh
 Supercomputing Center ST: Pennsylvania IN: SU: JVN


CD -- PG003 -- 7895 08/07/92 09:02 EDT
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