The University of Georgia, Athens has been awarded a four-year $1.3 million research grant from the National Institute of Health to create a method of analyzing the large amount of biological data generated by current biotechnology. The funding will be used to develop better statistical tools for crunching big data numbers in order to clarify the causes of several serious illnesses including cancer and heart disease.
Dr. Ping Ma, professor in UGA’s Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, will be the lead researcher on the project, investigating changes in small RNA and how they are responsible for certain diseases. Small regulatory RNAs encompass a specific class of RNAs that affect gene regulation. They do this through a process called alternative splicing, which determines which proteins will be made. When the process goes wrong it can cause various diseases.
The extraordinary amount of biomedical data that has become available due to recent advances presents an opportunity for scientists to take on larger and more complex research challenges that would not have been possible just a decade ago. However, due to the lack of effective and efficient statistical and computing tools for analyzing super-large data sets, this opportunity has not yet been fully realized.
This project aims to establish a comprehensive statistical framework and computational strategies for investigating alternative splicing regulation by small RNAs. This would help researchers to discover the regulatory role that small RNAs have in abnormal genetic transcription, which could help lead to treatments and cures for the diseases they cause.
The statistical methods that the UGA team hopes to develop would allow researchers to analyze biomedical data accurately and scale outcomes to larger data sets, even if they do not have access to supercomputers. The new tools would make it possible for them to use their desktop computers instead, making it easier for researchers to pinpoint the causes of many diseases. As summarized by Dr. Ma in an article from UGA, "As a byproduct of this effort, we will be able to provide an efficient, robust, publicly available and user-friendly software for the analysis."
(Image of RNA courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)
Upcoming Event at the University of Georgia, Athens:
The 18th Annual BioResearch Product Faire at the University of Geogia will be held on March 24th, 2017. Life science professionals are invited to attend the annual on campus trade fair for free. Click the button below for additional information or to pre-register.
Laboratory equipment suppliers interested in meeting researchers at the University of Georgia and discussing their lab supply needs are invited to participate. Those wanting to display and demonstrate their latest lab or chemical supply products can call (530) 272-6675 or click the link below for more information.