International 'Frontiers In Bioinformatics' Symposium to be Held by UB Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics

Leading scientists to discuss cutting-edge science essential for progress in the post-genomic era

Release Date: May 7, 2003 This content is archived.


BUFFALO, N.Y. -- World-class scientists in the fields of bioinformatics, structural genomics and proteomics will gather next month at a symposium presented by the University at Buffalo Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics to discuss the cutting-edge science essential for advancements in genetic analysis and drug discovery in the post-genomic era.

The "Frontiers in Bioinformatics" symposium, to be held June 6-8 at the Adams Mark Hotel in Buffalo, will be among the first conferences in the world to explore collaborative approaches to structural genomics, evolutionary genomics and large-scale simulations of genome annotation, according to Jeffrey Skolnick, director of the Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics.

"The mapping of the human genome provides the raw material for addressing exciting post-genomic challenges," Skolnick said. "We have at hand the information needed to predict the function of all gene products, correlate these products with disease and develop potential treatments for disease.

"The challenge for the scientists who will gather at the symposium is how to elucidate the function of each gene and extract medically relevant and biologically important information that can lead to medical breakthroughs," he added.

The symposium also will provide an opportunity to introduce the UB Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics to the world's scientific community and enhance global awareness of Buffalo Niagara's world-class life-sciences resources and facilities, Skolnick said.

"With the Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and the other research centers at UB and throughout the region, Buffalo Niagara has the unique capability to move from genetic analysis of disease, to drug development, to clinical trial of a drug in an efficient and synergistic one-stop-shopping scenario," he noted.

Topics to be discussed at the symposium include protein structure and function prediction, prediction of protein-protein interactions, evolutionary genomics, large-scale biological simulations, ligand docking, protein pathways and expression array analysis.

Amos Bairoch, Ph.D., of the Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics, will deliver the symposium's keynote address on June 7. Bairoch is responsible for the development of the world's best-known protein-sequence databases: SWISS-PROT, PROSITE and ENZYME. He also is a co-developer of the ExPASy World Wide Web server and its protein-characterization tools, and co-founder of Geneva Bioinformatics, a leading bioinformatics company.

Other prominent scientists who will speak at the symposium include:

* Sir Tom Blundell, Ph.D., the Sir William Dunn Professor of Biochemistry, University of Cambridge. The research of Blundell, a pioneer in the field of drug modeling, focuses mainly on growth factors, receptor activation and signal transduction, which are important in cancer and other diseases. Previously, he worked on the enzymes involved in hypertension and AIDS. He is co-founder of Astex Technology Ltd., a drug-development company, and formerly headed Britain's first biotechnology and biological-services research council.

* David Eisenberg, Ph.D., director of the UCLA-Department of Energy Lab of Structural Biology and Molecular Medicine. He is a world-renowned expert on X-ray crystallography whose research focuses on the relationship of protein sequence to 3-D structure and function. He has discovered a novel mode of protein interaction called "3-D Domain Swapping." Eisenberg's current work is aimed at learning if 3-D domain swapping can account for protein aggregates such as amyloids.

* Michael Levitt, Ph.D., professor and chair of the Department of Structural Biology, Stanford University School of Medicine. Levitt is renowned for his work in computational biology, especially protein folding. His pioneering use of an all-atom potential energy function and Cartesian coordinate energy minimization on an entire protein made molecular dynamics simulations possible. He is a member of the scientific advisory board for the UB Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics.

* Minoru Kanehisa, Ph.D., director of the Bioinformatics Center and professor in the Institute for Chemical Research at Kyoto University in Japan. Kanehisa is founder of the KEGG system (Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes), a bioinformatics database for understanding higher-order functional meanings and utilities of a cell or organism from its genome information.

* Monica Riley, Ph.D., senior scientist, The Josephine Bay Paul Center in Comparative Molecular Biology and Evolution in Woods Hole, Mass. Riley is a renowned expert in prokaryotic genomes, especially E. coli. Her research is in the area of molecular evolution and genetics and includes examination of patterns and processes of sequence evolution.

* Harold Scheraga, Ph.D., George W. and Grace L. Todd Professor of Chemistry, Emeritus, in the Baker Laboratory of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Cornell University. Scheraga's experimental work involves genetic engineering and hydrodynamic, spectroscopic immunochemical and other physicochemical measurements on proteins, synthetic polymers of amino acids and model compounds. One of the pioneers in protein folding, he is a member of the scientific advisory board for the UB Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics.

UB's Skolnick also will present at the symposium. He will discuss prediction of protein structure and function on a genomic scale. A pioneer in the field of bioinformatics for his research in computational biology, Skolnick has developed algorithms for the prediction of protein structure and folding pathways from protein sequence. His research group at UB's Center of Excellence developed PROSPECTOR, an algorithm for protein-interaction prediction that works on proteins for which little structural information exists.

For more information about the "Frontiers in Bioinformatics" symposium or to register to attend, go to or call 716-849-6733. The cost of attending the entire symposium for those who register before May 16 is $125 for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows and $250 for professionals. For those who register after May 16, the cost is $140 for students and postdoctoral fellows and $275 for professionals. The cost of attending one day of the symposium is $125 for those who register before May 16 and $140 for those registering after May 16.

A media briefing for reporters covering the symposium will be held at 10 a.m. June 6. A staffed pressroom will be available for the duration of the symposium for reporters.

The UB Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics was founded in 2001 by New York State Gov. George E. Pataki, who proposed creation of Centers of Excellence in Buffalo, Albany, Syracuse, Rochester and Long Island as part of an effort to leverage the state's expertise in high technologies, attract new businesses and improve the state's economy. To date, the UB Center of Excellence has garnered more than $290 million in support from New York State, the federal government, foundations and corporate partners.

Bioinformatics uses the power of supercomputers to interpret data in the biological sciences at the molecular level. The center will merge high-end technology, including supercomputing and visualization, with expertise in genomics, proteomics and bioimaging to foster advances in science and health care. It will have an equal emphasis on experimental and computational research with a goal of understanding biological function. Scientists will apply this fundamental information toward understanding common, yet complex, diseases. In turn, new drugs to treat disease will be developed through the collaborative efforts of the center and its strategic partners.

The UB Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics is located temporarily at 901 Washington St. Construction of a 123,500-square-foot structure to house the center is scheduled to begin in August. The new building will be located at Ellicott and Virginia streets within the Buffalo Life Sciences Complex on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.

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