Institute for Systems Biology, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory announce collaboration

04/22/04

Institute for Systems Biology and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory form a Joint Program in Systems Biology

SEATTLE - The Institute for Systems Biology and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory said today they have formed a Joint Program in Systems Biology.

The joint program, according to an agreement announced today at ISB's third annual International Symposium on Systems Biology, "will focus on expanding and strengthening technical capabilities of each organization in systems biology and related areas."

"PNNL brings to the world of biology enormous technical and computational capabilities, which are fundamental to our ability to transform biology and medicine," said Dr. Leroy Hood, ISB president.

"We are excited about this partnership as it provides a unique opportunity to leverage these capabilities in a way that will further our efforts in studying and applying systems biology and ultimately lead to predictive and preventive medicine."

The program's goals include building the infrastructure to solve complex biological problems faster, refining the technological and computational abilities to measure and predict complex cell behavior and to strengthen existing collaborative research and development projects in systems biology.

Those current collaborations include "computational approaches to predicting protein structure," said H. Steven Wiley, chief scientist and director of the Biomolecular Systems Initiative at the lab based in Richland, Wash. Wiley noted that an ISB computational model for protein-folding was being run on PNNL's supercomputer, which is the world's fifth fastest.

"Lee Hood's expertise in instrumentation for synthesizing and analyzing genes and proteins complements ours strengths in proteomics," said Wiley. Proteomics is the study of the large and complex protein sets that enable biological systems function.

PNNL manages the National Institutes of Health Proteomics Research Resource Center. Earlier this year, PNNL announced it had identified a record 4,000 distinctive proteins in human blood plasma, a critical step toward cataloging biological markers for early diagnosis of cancer and other diseases.

"ISB also brings strong expertise in technologies needed for pathogen detection and knowledge of how the immune system recognizes disease and illness-causing microbes," Wiley said. "It will help PNNL improve its biodetection capabilities in our work with the Department of Homeland Security."

Wiley predicted the partnership will also make ISB and PNNL more competitive for several large DOE projects that will come online in the next decade, including facilities for protein-tagging and whole proteome analysis.

Source: Eurekalert & others

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