Posted July 3, 2014

New genomic institute introduced at research symposium

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More than 100 Temple University researchers, graduate students and other scientists gathered recently for the Genomics at Temple: Research at the Interface of Data and Computation symposium. Sponsored by the Office of the Senior Vice Provost for Research, the event was designed to foster enhanced collaboration among scholars both from the data-generating and computational sides of genome research from the College of Science and Technology, the Health Sciences Center, Fox Chase Cancer Center and other Temple units.

“Events like this one are a part of a strategy to build research strengths across the university,” said Interim Senior Vice Provost Michele Masucci, who noted that recent funding gains have pushed Temple into the top 100 universities nationwide for sponsored research. “That is the result of the hard work of the faculty, and the administration’s commitment to research excellence. But today, collaboration matters more than ever if we want to continue to move forward.”

The Genomics at Temple event featured a dozen speakers from across the university, with the keynote address delivered by new CST faculty member Sudhir Kumar. Kumar, who was Regent’s Professor at Arizona State University before joining Temple, will be director of the new Institute for Genomic and Evolutionary Medicine (iGEM).

That institute will be located in the Science Education and Research Center—scheduled to open later this summer—and will focus on the discovery of evolutionary patterns and processes underlying the diversity of life on Earth and the promotion of that molecular evolutionary knowledge for use in genomic medicine.

Genome analysis requires sophisticated computational methodologies, and is being used already to guide the treatment of cancers of the brain and the breast. “The work iGEM will do—in evolution, genomics, informatics and more—will be to benefit humankind in the areas of biomed, medicine and ecology,” Kumar said. “What will make iGEM unique is the equal footing of labs and computational power, in terms of space and resources.”

The founding members of iGEM also include S. Blair Hedges, formerly of Penn State University, and Ananias Escalante, formerly of Arizona State University. The institute will add to CST’s considerable resources in computational science, including the Center for Biophysics & Computational Biology, the Center for Computational Genetics and Genomics, the Center for Data Analytics and Biomedical Informatics, and the Center for Materials Theory.

“CST plays a central role in the evolution of research here at Temple,” said CST Dean Michael Klein. “We have a vision for the college that includes recruiting stellar faculty and selecting research areas, like genomics, where we really want to focus.”

– Greg Fornia