Research in computational biology, led by George Rose in the Department of Biophysics and Biophysical Chemistry in the School of Medicine, is being supported by a three-year grant of more than $845,000 from the G. Harold and Leila Y. Mathers Foundation of Mt. Kisco, N.Y.
According to Rose, because of advances in scientific techniques and computer technology, we have--for the first time--both the data and the tools to study whole genomes at unprecedented levels of detail and completeness, and we are approaching a time when scientists may usefully seek the whole picture, from the origins of life through successive steps of evolution.
Rose believes that scientific progress is achieved by exploring questions at a fundamental level. "Understanding intellectual problems eventually allows us to apply them to practical medical problems," he says.
Rose's grant affords opportunities to study protein structures in order to make connections between biological pathways and evolutionary steps and to understand better what proteins do.
"What these critical resources allow us to do is to search for the organic unity of life at the molecular level," Rose says. "Exploring the connections between protein structure and function will help solve fundamental biological problems of great significance, with applications for understanding the underlying mechanisms of disease."
The ability to recognize protein structures from their sequences, Rose points out, is an important step in making use of data from the Human Genome Project, which is mapping all known human DNA sequences.