BLACKSBURG, Va., Apr. 20, 2004 - Dr. Kenneth Olden, the director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), attended a multidisciplinary meeting at Virginia Bioinformatics Institute (VBI) on April 5, 2004. Accompanying him were Dr. Mike Waters and Dr. Ray Tennant, also from NIEHS. The three researchers visited VBI as part of a long-term relationship between the NIEHS and VBI focused on cooperation and collaboration in the areas of systems biology and bioinformatics. The forum served as an extension of the May 2003 “Toxicogenomics Through the Eyes of Informatics” conference in Bethesda, MD.

Both NIEHS and VBI share similar goals and objectives. The collaboration strives to increase both the quantity and speed at which new systems biology data is generated. The two institutions hope to reach this goal by establishing a coordinated database and informatics platforms for data exchange and analysis. Correct interpretation of this data catalyzes the understanding of cell-chemical interactions, individuals’ susceptibility to environmental agents, crop sensitivity to destructive pathogens, and many other important relationships. Researchers are still faced with the need and challenge to integrate with similar efforts in other health-related disciplines, which will help merge all areas of the life sciences in a scalable, flexible system. As a solution, developing toxicogenomics data-generation centers linked to bioinformatics data-generation centers would allow compilation analysis and the sharing of relevant data and tools.

Ultimately, these data-generation centers will aid in the success of individual research projects as part of a larger coordinated and synergistic approach. Collaboration between the two institutions has profound implications for the quest to facilitate new systems biology methods.

In addition, Drs. Olden, Tennant and Waters met with several VBI faculty and staff members, including Drs. Bruno Sobral, Pedro Mendes, Vladimir Shulaev, Dana Eckart and Susan Martino-Catt to discuss mathematical and biochemical modeling, visualization tools and the need for new bioinformatics infrastructures.

The conference overview and recommendations from “Toxicogenomics through the Eyes of Informatics” will be published in the May 2004 edition of Environmental Health Perspectives, a leading NIEHS journal.

# #

Published by Public Relations, April 19, 2004