(From the June 2014 Research Now)
A $666,000 grant from the National Science Foundation will advance research in computational biology and the visualization of protein data in The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and The Ohio State University. The award — the first that Nationwide Children’s has received from the NSF — will support the work of William C. Ray, PhD, principal investigator in the Battelle Center for Mathematical Medicine and his collaborators, Thomas Magliery, PhD, and Raghu Machiraju, PhD, at OSU through a linked, multi-site project. Nationwide Children’s is the lead institution for the award.
“The work of Dr. Ray and his collaborators is transforming the fields of computational biology and data visualization, and their research on protein function has far-reaching potential for clinical care,” says Veronica J. Vieland, PhD, director of the Battelle Center for Mathematical Medicine in The Research Institute. “The NSF’s recognition of his experience and cutting-edge investigations helps cement the reputation of Nationwide Children’s Hospital as a national leader in pediatric research.”
Over a quarter-million dollars of the three-year grant has been given to Dr. Ray to study a wide range of proteins in collaboration with other investigators in The Research Institute and elsewhere. His statistical software, called StickWRLD, artistically renders information found in protein code and will be used to help researchers predict how a protein’s function changes in response to multiple mutations in its sequence, or how protein functions coevolve.
The project will also help determine and demonstrate how visualization of data and statistics can fundamentally help advance the basic sciences. Dr. Ray hopes touse statistical predictions and visualization techniques to broadly impact the study of proteins, from their function and evolution to protein engineering. His grant (NSF Award Number 1262457) will extend from June 1, 2014 to May 31, 2017.