UMass Bioinformatics Conference Showcases New Research

04/15/2005
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LOWELL - Top researchers from across New England will gather at the University of Massachusetts Lowell to compare notes on one of the fastest growing fields in the life sciences - bioinformatics.

The Lowell campus will host the third University of Massachusetts bioinformatics conference, "Laboratories of Innovation," Friday, April 29 in Ball 214 on UML North.  The day-long conference will highlight the innovative work in bioinformatics taking place on the five UMass campuses.

UMass Lowell has one of only two multi-disciplinary bioinformatics programs in the country with bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees offered.  The program combines computer science and mathematics with biology and chemistry to provide a broad, yet rigorous education.

            UMass Lowell Chancellor William T. Hogan will open the conference at 8:15 a.m., followed by UMass President Jack Wilson and Ranch Kimball, the Massachusetts secretary for economic development.  The public university system is a major player in bioinformatics development in the state, both in future workforce education and in innovative research.

            Researchers from each of the five campuses (including the Medical School) will present current research findings and two prominent scientists will make keynote speeches.

            John N. Weinstein, MD, Ph.D. in biophysics and head of the Genomics and Bioinformatics Group of the National Cancer Institute, will speak at 9 a.m. He has been researching new therapeutic strategies for cancer, using a mix of bioinformatic, genomic, proteomic and computational chemistry tools. Weinstein has been nominated for the National Medal of Technology, 2004.

            The noon keynote will be delivered by Mark Gerstein, associate professor of molecular biophysics and biochemistry at Yale University and director of the research lab Bioinformatics: Large-scale Analysis of Gene Sequences and Protein Structures. The team conducts large-scale analyses of genome sequences and macromolecular structures to investigate proteins: their physical properties, cellular function and phylogenetic distribution.

Bioinformatics is the application of computational methods to problems in the life sciences. This emerging field is critical in making sense of the explosion of new and potentially useful data about genes, proteins and molecular structures.

            "Scientists are excited about the pace and direction of discovery," says Computer Sciences Prof. Georges Grinstein, director of the UML Bioinformatics Program and organizer of the 2005 UMass Bioinformatics Conference. "Effective drugs will be identified more quickly and developed at less cost. Doctors will be able to understand individual differences, so they can choose the most appropriate drugs and treatments for each patient. Eventually, researchers may be able to identify the causes of diseases such as cancer, asthma and diabetes - taking us a long way towards prevention and cure."

The University of Massachusetts Lowell, a comprehensive university with special expertise in applied science and technology, is committed to educating students for lifelong success and conducting research and outreach activities that sustain the economic, environmental, and social health of the region. UML offers its 11,000 undergraduate and graduate students more than 80 degree programs in the colleges of Arts and Sciences, Engineering and Management, and the School of Health and Environment and the Graduate School of Education.  Visit the website at www.uml.edu.

For more information, contact media@uml.edu or 978-934-3224