BLACKSBURG, Aug. 30, 2002 - The Virginia Bioinformatics Institute (VBI) at Virginia Tech announced a research collaboration with Phenomenome Discoveries, Inc. In this collaboration Phenomenome funds the development of innovative software for the visualization of metabolomics data. 

Metabolomics is an area of functional genomics which studies changes in the expression of small organic molecules in biological systems. It complements genomics as it provides objective measurements of phenotype. The bioinformatics software developed under this collaboration will organize and display metabolomics data in ways to assist scientists with its interpretation. The software will also combine data from DNA chips and proteomics in the same view.

The Principal Investigator of this project at VBI is Dr. Pedro Mendes who leads the Biochemical Network Modeling research group. The group is already studying algorithms to analyze gene networks, is developing simulation software for high-performance computers, and is also expecting an award from NSF on another functional genomics project. Regarding the collaboration with Phenomenome, Dr. Mendes said: "We have for some time been interested in combining metabolomics data with gene expression and proteomics. Metabolomics will aid in revealing how genotypes are associated with phenotypes and make large-scale computer simulations of cells. This collaboration with Phenomenome will help us materialize our analysis methods with the best technology for measuring the metabolome."

Phenomenome Discoveries, of Saskatoon, Canada, is a biological discovery organization. The company has developed a proprietary metabolomics technology, Met-Ex, that separates, quantifies, and identifies all of the metabolites in a complex biological sample quickly and simultaneously. This is achieved without any a priori selection of the metabolites of interest and is therefore unbiased. This powerful technology allows, for the first time, global changes in metabolism and gene expression to be integrated and correlated.

Dr. Goodenowe, President and CEO, stated: "We are very excited about working with the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute. Of the bioinformatics research groups we investigated, VBI has the right mix of biology and computer science to be able to integrate and reduce vast amounts of genomic and metabolomic data into a format that regular bench biologists can easily use to interpret the results of their experiments. The tools that will be developed as part of this collaboration mark the first real step in functional genomics research that goes beyond the isolated and static generation of data to begin the process of observing and understanding biological systems from a global and dynamic perspective."

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Published by Public Relations, August 29, 2002