UT Arlington computer science and engineering professor Dr. Heng Huang (leading principal investigator), and Dr. Chris Ding (Co-PI) have been awarded a $610,392 grant by the NSF ABI (Advances in Biological Informatics) program to fund a three-year project focused on designing an interactive database of gene expressions of the fruit fly.
The project proposed by Drs. Huang and Ding will use principled bioinformatics and computational biology algorithms and tools that will integrate multi-modal spatial patterns of gene expression for Drosophila embryos’ developmental stage recognition and anatomical ontology term annotation, and infer the gene interaction network to generate comprehensive picture of genome function and interaction.
The Advances in Biological Informatics (ABI) program seeks to encourage new approaches to the analysis and dissemination of biological knowledge for the benefit of both the scientific community and the broader public. The ABI program is especially interested in the development of informatics tools and resources that have the potential to advance- or transform- research in biology supported by the Directorate for Biological Sciences at the National Science Foundation. The ABI program accepts three major types of proposals: Innovation awards that seek to pioneer new approaches to the application of informatics to biological problems, development awards that seek to provide robust cyberinfrastructure that will enable transformative biological research, and sustaining awards that seek to support ongoing operations and maintenance of existing cyberinfrastructure that is critical for continued advancement of priority biological research.
Dr. Heng Huang, a UT Arlington associate professor, will lead the project with professor Chris Ding, also of the UT Arlington Computer Science and Engineering department.
The UTA scientists say knowledge gained from their analysis of the Drosophila expression patterns is widely important, because a large number of genes involved in fruit fly development are commonly found in humans and other species. Thus, research efforts in this project will help the leading-edge of scientific investigations into the fundamental principles of different species development.
Research efforts into the spatial and temporal characteristics of fruit fly gene expression images have been at the leading edge of scientific investigations into the fundamental principles of different species development, the UT Arlington team observes.
“We’re building a system through which the computer will recognize what happens in these fruit fly genes and how the genes then interact with each other,” Dr. Huang explains in a UTA release. “Because so many of the genes involved in fruit fly development are found in humans and other species, finding out what these expressions are and how they work with each other is highly important.”
The project is expected to yield methods of analyzing data that will aid in biomedical science and engineering, systems biology, clinical pathology, oncology and pharmaceuticals.
Dr. Heng Huang’s particular expertise is on 3D shape modeling and analysis, biomedical image computing, microarray analysis, and gene regulatory elements identification. He is also director of the UTA Biomedical Imaging and Visualization Laboratory in CSE the BIOVIZION Lab (NH 250)
“We are delighted that Dr. Huang and Dr. Ding have received this highly competitive grant to lead the way in analyzing big data as it relates to gene expression and as it informs our broader understanding of health and the human condition,” says Dr. Khosrow Behbehani, dean of the UT Arlington College of Engineering. “Our team’s work will no doubt lead to advances in biology, pathology and pharmaceuticals, among other areas.”
Dr. Huang received two NSF grants in 2013 worth more than $1.6 million focused on big data and medical records, and is a major player on a third grant worth $1 million through which UT Arlington researchers are developing a smart rehabilitation program.
The University of Texas at Arlington is a comprehensive research institution and the second largest institution in The University of Texas System. The Chronicle of Higher Education ranked UT Arlington as the seventh fastest-growing public research university in 2013. U.S. News & World Report ranks UT Arlington fifth in the nation for undergraduate diversity.
The University of Texas at Arlington
The Directorate for Biological Sciences at the National Science Foundation
The University of Texas at Arlington