Iowa State University (ISU) and New Mexico State University (NMSU) have been awarded a five-year $3 million National Science Foundation Integrative Graduate Education and Research Training (IGERT) grant for computational molecular biology. The grant was secured by a team of ISU and NMSU faculty headed by Drena Dobbs, ISU professor of Genetics, Development and Cell Biology and Desh Ranjan, NMSU professor and chair of Computer Science. The new project builds upon a previous five-year $2.6 million IGERT grant awarded to ISU in 1999 and will support continuing growth at ISU and NMSU in the burgeoning fields of bioinformatics and computational biology.
A major outcome of the initial funding period was the establishment of ISU's interdepartmental graduate program in Bioinformatics and Computational Biology (BCB), which currently enrolls approximately 55 PhD students. The grant has provided traineeships for thirty graduate students majoring in BCB, biophysics, chemical engineering, computer science, electrical engineering and genetics, as well as significant funding for computational biology hardware, software, and support personnel.
The principal goals for the new NSF IGERT grant are to lead the field of computational biology into the next era of discovery and to educate a diverse group of professionals to spearhead this effort. These goals will be achieved through a partnership between ISU and a similar emerging effort at NMSU, the Center for Research Excellence in Bioinformatics and Computational Biology (BCB).
The ISU-NMSU partnership is synergistic. Faculty share common research interests, which encompass genome informatics, macromolecular dynamics and interactions, and metabolomics and regulatory networks. Research collaborations are already in place between ISU and NMSU, including a commitment to partner in bioinformatics graduate training.
More than ninety ISU and NMSU faculty members engage in bioinformatics, computational biology and biological statistics research. The institutions' extraordinary success in fostering highly collaborative research environment is manifested in a large number of interdisciplinary and interinstitutional research projects in bioinformatics and computational biology.
In addition to the primary ISU-NMSU partnership, this project also partners the schools with Pioneer Hi-Bred, International, which has contributed $100K annually since 1999, including graduate traineeships and internships, as well as with Sandia National Laboratories and the National Center for Genome Resources (NCGR), which also will provide internship opportunities for ISU and NMSU students. Students also can take advantage of international research opportunities at Bielefeld University in Germany.