Bioinformatics Student Ranked in the Nvidia ACS COMP award 2016

Please help us in congratulating Jeremy Ash (Bioinformatics, Ph.D.)who recently won second place in the competitive Nvidia ACS COMP poster contest.  His work is relevant for the development of extremely predictive QSAR models needed for lead optimization, which is of great interest to pharmaceutical companies for modeling technology. Congratulations, Jeremy!!


ASH_ERK2_MDdescriptors Jeremy Ash

BRC Hosts Spring B.I.G. talks

The Bioinformatics Research Center will be hosting weekly Industry and Government partners in informal talks aimed at partnership, collaboration, and the sharing of ideas. Each Monday at 11:30am, we will welcome a different partner to speak to our Graduate students, faculty and research staff. Talks last roughly 30 minutes, and are followed by pizza. Schedule is as follows:

BIG schedule

B.I.G. schedule


‘Development of Novel Therapeutics to Modulate Bacterial Biofilms’ Research Project to start in 2016

Drs. Pierce (Chemistry), Fourches (Chemistry, BRC), and Elfenbein (CVM) have received a grant from the Research and Innovation Funding (RISF) program. Their research project is entitled “Development of Novel Therapeutics to Modulate Bacterial Biofilms” and will be conducted in 2016.

Tanguay & Reif labs awarded new Systems Toxicology grant!

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has awarded a 3-year grant to fund a collaboration between Oregon State University (Robert Tanguay, Jane La Du, Mike Simonich, Chris Sullivan) and North Carolina State University (David Reif) entitled “System Toxicological Approaches to Define Flame Retardant Adverse Outcome Pathways”.

From the EPA webpage:

A team of researchers from Oregon State University and North Carolina State University proposes to conduct the first comprehensive in vivo,structure-activity based toxicity studies of flame retardant chemicals (FRCs), including FRCs that EPA has phased out, FRCs that companies manufacture now, and FRCs that companies have proposed as replacements. (They) will test the hypothesis that the toxicity of FRCs will be highly dependent on their chemical structure.

Computer-aided design of carbon nanotubes with the desired bioactivity and safety profiles

Growing experimental evidences suggest the existence of direct relationships between the surface chemistry of nanomaterials and their biological effects. Herein, we have employed computational approaches to design a set of biologically active carbon nanotubes (CNTs) with controlled protein binding and cytotoxicity. Quantitative structure–activity relationship (QSAR) models were built and validated using a dataset of 83 surface-modified CNTs. A subset of a combinatorial virtual library of 240 000 ligands potentially attachable to CNTs was selected to include molecules that were within the chemical similarity threshold with respect to the modeling set compounds. QSAR models were then employed to virtually screen this subset and prioritize CNTs for chemical synthesis and biological evaluation. Ten putatively active and 10 putatively inactive CNTs decorated with the ligands prioritized by virtual screening for either protein-binding or cytotoxicity assay were synthesized and tested. We found that all 10 putatively inactive and 7 of 10 putatively active CNTs were confirmed in the protein-binding assay, whereas all 10 putatively inactive and 6 of 10 putatively active CNTs were confirmed in the cytotoxicity assay. This proof-of-concept study shows that computational models can be employed to guide the design of surface-modified nanomaterials with the desired biological and safety profiles.
Authors: Denis Fourches, Dongqiuye Pu, Liwen Li, Hongyu Zhou, Qingxin Mu, Gaoxing Su, Bing Yan & Alexander Tropsha

2015 Cockerham Lecture: Dr. Nancy Cox of Vanderbilt Univ.

The Bioinformatics Research Center was pleased to present the 2015 C. Clark Cockerham Guest Lecture, with guest speaker, Dr. Nancy Cox of Vanderbilt University. The title of her lecture was, ““New Kinds of Data Integration: Genome x Transcriptome x Electronic Medical Records”. The Bioinformatics Research Center would like to thank all those who attended and especially Dr. Nancy Cox for her time and efforts.



EPA awards grant for multi-institution collaboration between the BRC and Texas A&M

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has awarded a $6 million grant to fund a multi-institutional collaboration between the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences and the Bioinformatics Research Center at NCSU. investigating the effects of environmental toxicants on human health with a focus on the potential adverse effects on the heart. The investigators will study the effect of environmental chemicals on cultures of cells that have been coaxed into behaving like heart muscle, even to the point of beating with a regular rhythm. Dr. Fred Wright, the principal investigator for the NCSU site, says “the ability to systematically investigate cardiac toxicity in this manner opens up the study of inter-individual variability in toxicity testing, in a way that was not possible before.” Other investigators at NCSU include Associate Professor David Reif and Research Assistant Professor Yi-Hui Zhou.

Image credit: Cellular Dynamics



In fruit flies, infection results in increased genetic diversity

New research from North Carolina State University and Reed College shows that when fruit flies are attacked by parasites or bacteria they respond by producing offspring with greater genetic variability. This extra genetic variability may give the offspring an increased chance of survival when faced with the same pathogens. These findings demonstrate that parents may purposefully alter the genotypes of their offspring.

The study was led by BRC faculty member Dr. Nadia Singh, and published in the August 14, 2015 issue of Science.

Image credit: Dahlia Nielsen, NCSU



Better, faster, stronger GWAS

BRC faculty member Yi-Hui Zhou, Research Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences, has received a two-year R21 award from the National Human Genome Research Institute to develop new methods to analyze genome-wide association studies (GWAS). Existing methods for genetic association mapping primarily use parametric statistical assumptions. Explains Dr. Zhou, “standard methods can fail, even for large sample sizes, at the extreme significance thresholds required when testing millions of genetic markers.” An alternative approach uses permutation, a kind of data shuffling that provides accurate results, but is computationally intensive. The grant proposes to develop new mathematical approximations to permutation, in order to provide fast and accurate testing with greatly reduced computational burden.


David Reif serves on expert Working Group for the World Health Organization’s (WHO) International Agency for Cancer Research (IARC)

David Reif was a member of the Working Group that drew experts from 13 countries to a meeting in Lyon, France in order to evaluate the carcinogenicity of the the insecticides gamma-hexachlorocyclohexane (lindane) and dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) and the herbicide 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D).

Summaries of the final evaluations are available in the official press release and Lancet Oncology article. The detailed assessments will be published as Volume 113 of the IARC Monographs.