Computer Science faculty advance research-based graduate training in Bioinformatics

December 12, 2005

Professor Vasant Honavar of Computer Science will lead, together with Professors Dan Voytas and Drena Dobbs of Genetics, Development, and Cell Biology, the ISU Computational Molecular Biology Training Group funded by an Integrative Graduate Education and Research Training (IGERT) award from the National Science Foundation. IGERT is an NSF-wide program intended to meet the challenges of educating U.S. Ph.D. scientists and engineers with the interdisciplinary background, deep knowledge in a chosen discipline, and the technical, professional, and personal skills needed for the career demands of the future. The program is intended to catalyze a cultural change in graduate education by establishing innovative new models for graduate education and training in a fertile environment for collaborative research that transcends traditional disciplinary boundaries. Computational biology is an interdisciplinary field which aims to answer complex biological questions by accessing, manipulating and interpreting the rapidly accumulating body of genomic sequence and expression data. The challenge is to understand how genomic information is integrated to create complex biological pathways, processes and systems. Meeting this challenge requires a diverse and broadly trained group of professionals working at the interface of the biological and computational sciences (Computer Science, Mathematics, Statistics). The ISU Computational Molecular Biology Training groupwill train a diverse group of Ph.D. students to lead computational biology into the next era of discovery. This goal will be achieved through an integrated, inter-institutional training program which involves a partnership between Iowa State University (ISU) - with its established PhD Bioinformatics and Computational Biology program - and New Mexico State University (NMSU) - a strong research institution with a rich tradition in minority student training. This partnership will foster collaborative research in areas of common interest to ISU and NMSU faculty: genome informatics, macromolecular dynamics and interactions, and metabolic and regulatory networks. ISU will share expertise in interdisciplinary graduate training as NMSU establishes a graduate level computational biology program. In addition to Professor Vasant Honavar, Computer Science professors Oliver Eulenstein, David Fernandez-Baca, Xiaoqiu Huang, and Les Miller are members of the Computational Molecular Biology Training group

The ISU Bioinformatics and Computational Biology graduate program, established in 1999 with support from an earlier five-year IGERT award from the National Science Foundation to the ISU Computational Biology Training Group, has emerged as one of the largest and strongest Bioinformatics programs in the US. For additional information about the current IGERT award, see theNSF abstract