I/UCRC: Computing and Genomics-An Essential Partnership for Biology Breakthroughs

Project: Research project

Project Details


The application of genomics across the life sciences industries is currently challenged by an inadequate ability to generate, interpret, and apply genomic data quickly and accurately for a wide variety of applications. Major Innovations in the applicability, timeliness, efficiency, and accuracy of computational genomic methods are needed, and these innovations will develop best when an interdisciplinary team of scientists, engineers, and physicians from academia and industry, spanning computer systems, health care/pharmaceuticals, and life sciences, work together. The Mayo Clinic and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) are building on their longstanding collaboration to form the Center for Computational Biotechnology and Genomic Medicine (CCBGM), which will bring together their excellence in computing, genomic biology, and patient-specific individualized medicine. Working closely with industry, the CCBGM's multidisciplinary teams will use the power of computational genomics to advance pressing societal issues, such as enabling patient-specific cancer treatment, understanding and modifying microbial communities in diverse environments related to human health and agriculture, and supporting humanity's rapidly expanding need for food by improving the efficiency of plant and animal agriculture. The CCBGM will leverage Mayo Clinic's first-rate medical research - both basic and translational - across virtually all medical disciplines. Mayo Clinic generates a large quantity of big data sets from patients, biological experiments, and animal models. The goal is for these data sets to be linked to diseases and therapies to help understand the mechanisms involved in disease processes and in treatment resistance. Through this Center, state-of-the-art computational analytical tools will be built to help improve health care in an efficient and cost-saving manner through precision medicine. These tools will also be extended into many other areas of life science to improve product quality and safety. At the same time, educational efforts to include students, fellows, and junior faculty within the Center activities will also help build the nation's next generation of scientists and entrepreneurs, especially minority and women in the area of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics).

The CCBGM will bring together an interdisciplinary team to address the colossal genomic data challenge. Academia/industry partnerships will enhance research, education, and entrepreneurship while performing important technology transfer. The Center will achieve transformational computing innovations on three fronts. (1) It will innovate computing and data management to deal with issues of scaling to the ever-growing volume, velocity, and variety of genomic data. It will concentrate initially on scaling the computation of epistatic interactions (interactions between two or more genes or DNA variants) in genome-wide association study data, generating lists of genomic features that are maximally predictive of phenotypes, and information-compression algorithms for genomic data storage and transfer. (2) It will revolutionize the generation of actionable intelligence from multimodal structured and unstructured data, to generate knowledge from big data. The emphasis will be on the processing and integration of genomic and multi-omic data, and on the merging of unstructured phenotypic data with information from curated data sources (e.g., electronic medical records, annotation databases). The integration of these diverse data types will improve discovery research, predictive genomics, diagnostics, prognostics, and theranostics. Application areas include targeted cancer therapy, pharmacogenomics, crop improvement, and predictive microbiome analysis. (3) It will achieve systems innovation by designing computer systems especially suited for computational genomics, providing unprecedented speed and energy efficiency while preserving the accuracy of the analytics. The systems will be used to quantify and improve the accuracy of detecting genomic variation and, more generally, to optimize computing architectures for the execution of genome analysis workflows.

Effective start/end date7/15/166/30/22


  • National Science Foundation: $750,000.00


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