June 4, 2012–The second annual University of Delaware bioinformatics and systems biology research symposium was held Thursday, May 24, in the Embassy Suites Newark.

Hosted by UD’s Center for Bioinformatics and Computational Biology (CBCB), the event drew more than 100 participants, including faculty and students from various disciplines across UD, as well as representatives from companies, other academic institutions, and government labs and agencies.

“This second annual CBCB research symposium highlights the rapid growth of the center, and its broadening impact across the University, the state and beyond,” said Karl Steiner, senior associate professor for research development and professor of electrical and computer engineering.

Steiner added, “Bioinformatics provides the key tools to make new and exciting discoveries at the nexus of biology and information technology, and we are thrilled about the progress CBCB has made over the past three years.”

Cathy H. Wu, center director and the Edward G. Jefferson Chair of Bioinformatics and Computational Biology at UD, said this year’s symposium was designed to showcase the newly formed Bioinformatics Network of Delaware (BiND) and to provide a forum to catalyze the cross-fertilization of ideas and foster multidisciplinary research collaborations.

BiND includes UD and partner institutions Christiana Care Health System, Delaware State University, Delaware Technical and Community College, Nemours/A.I. duPont Hospital for Children and Wesley College. It was established to integrate the bioinformatics and biostatistics resources available through the partner institutions to strengthen the Delaware INBRE (IDeA Networks of Biomedical Research Excellence) infrastructure and efforts to promote collaborative research and training.

The daylong symposium featured a keynote address by Mark Gerstein, the Albert L. Williams Professor of Biomedical Informatics at Yale University.

Gerstein spoke on the topic “Molecular Networks: The Next-Generation Annotation for Personal Genomes.” His talk highlighted the development of algorithms used to tease apart the role of pseudogenes and transcription factors within a biological network.

Gerstein’s research is a key example of applying bioinformatics to complex networks involving human processes.

The symposium was organized in conjunction with the Bioinformatics ShortCourse: RNA-Seq Data Analysis, which was hosted by CBCB.

This introductory certificate course prepared participants to analyze high-throughput transcriptomic sequencing (RNA-Seq) data with open source software packages. Lectures and hands-on exercises emphasized practical application, walking participants through the process of designing RNA-Seq experiments and analyzing/visualizing resulting data sets.

Attendees at the workshop and symposium included representatives from Nemours, Christiana Care Health System, DuPont, Delaware State University, Delaware Technical and Community College, U.S. Army Research Laboratory, Wesley College and UD.

The symposium also featured presentations and posters from all BiND institutions. Yogasudha Veturi, a master’s student in the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences at UD, was selected as the winner of the student poster award and gave an award presentation about her poster.

Article by Neil Thomas