Microsoft Research Trento Centre: Biology and Computer Science Coming Together
Posted Mar 27 2009 10:14am
This is the convergence of biology and computer science coming together to with a new computer language. Algorithmic systems biology used to benefit both worlds with a new breed of scientists. A couple of their research partners include Salk Institute for Biological Studies and GlaxoSmithKline. This is very interesting as some of their studies are directed towards the DNA in food and nutrition to activate genes that could possibly prevent disease, so this center is all about the prevention at the core.
The last line of this article make an interesting point, people and groups have to “grow” into it, in other words it doesn’t work by combining existing groups, a whole new world of research and algorithmic processes. As I always say, it’ all about software when it comes to research, development and advancing technologies. BD
In February 2005, Bill Gates, Microsoft chairman, signed an agreement in Prague, along with two ministers of the Italian government, a councilor from the Italian province of Trento, and the rector of the University of Trento, to establish The Microsoft Research – University of Trento Centre for Computational and Systems Biology (CoSBi).
The centre, focused on the convergence of the life sciences and computer science, was established with a specific, far-reaching vision: to foster the development of “a new kind of scientist, empowered with novel conceptual and computational tools smoothly connecting models and experiments” to “discover and better understand fundamental biological principles at different levels, from molecular to ecological systems, and thereby construct a brighter future for the quality of our lives and our environment.”
“Our partnership with the University of Trento has been a longstanding and fruitful one, combining forces to further advance the study of computational science, in particular the intersection between life sciences and computer science, and we look forward to further success stories coming out of the lab.”
CoSBi Lab, based on the new programming language BlenX, is an effort to develop a complete artificial laboratory that can replicate via computer simulation all the activities usually performed in wet labs. The effort offers features to analyze the outcomes of simulations including main statistical techniques and visualizations of networks of reactions and plots of concentrations.
CoSBi Lab comprises five free, downloadable software prototypes:
Beta Workbench: a collection of tools explicitly designed to represent biological entities and their interactions.
Cyto-Sim: a stochastic simulator of biochemical processes in hierarchical compartments that can be isolated or allowed to communicate via peripheral and integral membrane proteins.
Kinfer: a tool for estimating rate constants of biochemical network models from concentration data measured at discrete time points.
Snazer: a modular tool designed to aid the processes of visualizing and manipulating reactive models and to share and interpret time-course data.
Redi: a reaction-diffusion simulator built to test new diffusion models and algorithms.
In addition to better understanding of biological systems that could enhance the use of targeted medicines to fight prominent illnesses, systems- biology research on nutrigenomics promises insights into how food can interact with DNA to activate genes that prevent the onset of diseases.