Marshall advances in next generation sequencing and bioinformatics

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Friday, Oct. 21, 2011

Contact: Ginny Painter, Communications Director, Marshall University Research Corporation, 304-746-1964, ginny.painter@marshall.edu


Forum to highlight Marshall advances in

next generation sequencing and bioinformatics

Donald Primerano, Ph.D.HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Scientific researchers, computer scientists and engineers will gather next week at Marshall University for a forum to focus attention on Marshall’s research capabilities in the fields of genomics and bioinformatics.

The free forum, called “Next Generation Sequencing and Bioinformatics,” will be held Thursday, Oct. 27, from 1 to 4:30 p.m. in room 402 of the Drinko Library on Marshall’s Huntington campus. The program will include presentations about the university’s resources for advanced research in these cutting-edge scientific fields, current research projects under way on campus, and a discussion about what will be necessary to continue to build momentum.

According to event organizers, the scientific fields of molecular biology and genomics have undergone a spectacular transition over the past 20 years due to technological advances. Research studies have evolved from a single gene approach to genome-wide investigations that generate a massive amount of data to analyze. This change has led to development of bioinformatics – a research field that uses computer technology to help understand biological processes.

Over the past several years, Marshall has made a concerted effort to strategically build its capacity for this type of high-tech research. A new high-performance computing cluster has given Marshall students and faculty access to computing power, data and information previously available only to the most prestigious research institutions, and connection to the advanced Internet2® network that links the university with people, equipment and information at partner institutions around the world. Marshall is also the only institution in the state with a next generation sequencer, which allows scientists to sequence a genome faster and at lower cost than was possible with earlier methods.

Dr. Philippe Georgel, a professor of biological sciences in Marshall’s College of Science, will be helping to lead the forum. He said the university has made great strides recently.

“Marshall University is gathering momentum in terms of securing first-class equipment and building intellectual capabilities to develop competitive next generation sequencing capabilities,” Georgel said. “The decoding of the human genome has not only answered multiple biological questions, it has also opened new research avenues aimed at understanding how the expression of these thousands of genes can be coordinated.”

Another forum participant, Dr. Jim Denvir, assistant professor of bioinformatics and biostatistics at the university’s Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine, agreed, adding, “The acquisition of state-of-the-art genomic sequencing technology has positioned Marshall University to play a leading role in emerging avenues of biological research. These new research technologies reveal both exciting possibilities and big challenges across multiple-scientific disciplines.”

Organizers invite anyone with an interest in the topic to attend the forum. For more information or to register online, visit www.marshall.edu/cegas/ngsbf.

The forum is made possible in part by a National Science Foundation grant that funds “Cyberinfrastructure for Transformational Scientific Discovery in West Virginia and Arkansas (CI-TRAIN),” a partnership among eight higher education institutions in West Virginia and Arkansas.