The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) has awarded Virginia Bioinformatics Institute (VBI) at Virginia Tech $2.89 million as part of an $8.74 million contract with Social & Scientific Systems Inc. (SSS) to establish an Administrative Resource for Biodefense Proteomic Research Centers.

Margaret Moore from SSS will serve as principal investigator (PI) and Bruno Sobral, VBI's professor and director, and Cathy Wu, from Georgetown University Medical Center, will work as co-principal investigators (co-PIs) on the project. Sobral will lead VBI's effort to design and implement an integrated Data Management System to collect, store, view, and query proteomics data from all NIAID-funded Proteomics Research Centers.

Proteomics is the systematic study of proteins in a cell, tissue or organism providing scientists with a rich source of biological data. The availability of an interoperable infrastructure and analysis tools through the Pathogen Portal (ToolBus/PathPort) project at VBI allows scientists to use this data to advance scientific research against bioterrorism agents and in the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of emerging infectious diseases.

"We are pleased to be involved in NIAD's efforts to improve the nation's defense system against bioterrorism and emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases," Sobral said. "VBI's proven computational abilities with the institute's Core Computational Facility (CCF) and its successful Pathogen Portal technology will further advance research at the Biodefense Proteomic Research Centers."

The initial proteomics Data Management System will store proteomics information, including source data, experimental protocols, and novel technologies supplied by six Proteomics Research Centers. Free public access to the system and stored information will be provided through a website. Direct queries and client applications will be enabled through VBI's PathPort/ToolBus interface and other methods.

VBI's CCF will provide disk storage space for raw and processed data. The CCF's six Timelogic DeCypher boards will accelerate specific algorithms related to bioinformatics research, such as BLAST and many more. Both VBI's recent move into the new Bioinformatics Facility I on Virginia Tech's campus and the institute's strong computational partners, Sun, IBM, and Timelogic, will help the collaborative team achieve project goals.

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Established in 2000 as a Commonwealth of Virginia shared resource, the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute (VBI) at Virginia Tech has a research platform centered on understanding the "disease triangle" of host-pathogen-environment interactions. With almost $42 million in extramural research funding awarded to date, VBI researchers are working on many human, crop, and animal diseases.

Founded in 1872 as a land-grant college, Virginia Tech has grown to become the largest university in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Today, Virginia Tech's eight colleges are dedicated to putting knowledge to work through teaching, research, and outreach activities and to fulfilling its vision to be among the top 30 research universities in the nation. At its 2,600-acre main campus located in Blacksburg and other campus centers in Northern Virginia, Southwest Virginia, Hampton Roads, Richmond, and Roanoke, Virginia Tech enrolls more than 28,000 full- and part-time undergraduate and graduate students from all 50 states and more than 100 countries in 180 academic degree programs.