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Arkansas State University receives $99,999 National Science Foundation Award for Bioinformatics Project


JONESBORO — Arkansas State University has received a National Science Foundation (NSF) award of $99,999 for the project entitled “NSF EPSCoR Workshop in Bioinformatics to Foster Collaborative Research” (Award No. 1239812)” with principal investigator, Dr. Xiuzhen Huang, associate professor of Computer Science, and co-principal investigator, Dr. Gail McClure, Arkansas Science and Technology Authority (ASTA). 

The bioinformatics workshop will be held in Little Rock at the Peabody Hotel and the Clinton Presidential Center in March 2013. This event is open to the public with registration details to be announced soon.  

“We are elated to be the recipient of this award from the National Science Foundation,” said Dr. Huang. “The main goal of this workshop is to stimulate and foster research collaborations not only among bioinformatists but also between bioinformatists and life science researchers. The funding will support a national-level workshop emerging from the current bioinformatics research collaboration and connection between Arkansas researchers and those of the many states and territories of the United States. The workshop will bring computational scientists together with life scientists to explore mathematical and computational modeling to solve real-world challenges in life sciences.” 

Dr. Huang noted that Bioinformatics is a fast growth research area due to the exponential increase in data and information developed through the new “omics” (genomics, proteomics, metabolomics, etc.) and advanced imaging and sequencing technologies. 

“Life science research is becoming highly data-intensive and computationally intensive. The need for computational innovation is dramatic and provides exciting opportunities and great challenges for data analysis and knowledge inference,” said Dr. Huang. “Many computer scientists and bioinformatists are eager to understand the biological background of the computational challenges embedded in life science research. 

“At the same time, biologists and life science researchers are eager to understand what is in the ‘black box’ of amazing bioinformatics models, approaches and software. However, both bioinformatists and life scientists are intimidated by the background and terminology gulf between computational science and life sciences.”

The workshop will focus on four rapidly growing areas in bioinformatics, including next generation sequencing data analysis, protein structure prediction and applications, systems biology, and molecular ecology. It will also define and discuss the current research challenges, open problems and exciting research opportunities of these areas, and come up with novel solutions, suggestions and strategies for addressing the key challenges.

This workshop will be planned and led by a collaborative steering committee made up of leaders from Arkansas State University, Arkansas Science Technology Authority, Dartmouth College, Mississippi State University, North Dakota State University, University of Minnesota, University of New Hampshire, University of Rhode Island, University of Tennessee, University of Vermont, and University of Wyoming. 

For additional information, contact Emily Devereux (edevereux@astate.edu) or Julie Thatcher (jthatcher@astate.edu).