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Jul 31, 2014
 |  BC Innovations  |  Translation in Brief

Translational tidbits

Quantitative boost for CSHL

The Simons Foundation has donated $50 million to Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory to establish the Simons Center for Quantitative Biology. The center's goal is to develop quantitative approaches that can maximize the utility of high-content imaging and genomic data produced by the laboratory and its partners.

The center will focus on creating computational methods to mine complex genomic and imaging data related to cancer and neurological diseases including autism, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

Bruce Stillman, president and CEO of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL), told SciBX that high throughput studies investigating changes in neuronal connectivity need new methods of data analysis. "The sheer quantity of imaging data has made it clear that more capable algorithms and statistical methods are required to extract the full amount of buried information," he said.

In addition, he said that ongoing work at CSHL's genome center on patients with cancer, schizophrenia or bipolar disorder have generated massive genomic data sets that require an enhanced analytical tool set to reveal their information in full depth.

"These data collections are steadily growing due to the fact that conventional and single-cell genome and imaging analyses have now become major research strategies at CSHL. Multiple complex data sets need to be meaningfully integrated to identify biological and pathological principles," said Stillman.

To run the center, CSHL recruited Adam Siepel, who was previously an associate professor at Cornell University with a background in comparative genome biology and software development. He plans to recruit more scientists, create programs for visiting scholars and strengthen the CSHL course curriculum for quantitative biologists.

Stillman said that the new quantitative biology center will complement other regional hubs for large-scale analysis. "The center will be aligned with interests at the Simons Center for Data Analysis and the New York Genome Center, which CSHL is a founding member of," he said.

The Simons Center for Data Analysis (SCDA) was launched in

New York in 2013 and is also dedicated to innovating methods to analyze large-scale data sets from genomic and neurophysiological research. Siepel's counterpart at the SCDA is Leslie Greengard, who formerly was the director of New York University's Courant Institute for Mathematical Sciences.

Expanded repurposing in the U.K.

The Medical Research Council (MRC) has added six new pharma partners to its three-year-old initiative to identify repurposing opportunities for deprioritized and discontinued compounds. The partners hope to publish a complete list of the available compounds and solicit project proposals by year end.

Under the initial 2011 collaboration with MRC, AstraZeneca plc

made 22 of its compounds available to academic researchers for repurposing studies. In 2012, MRC granted a total of £7 million

($11.8 million) to 15 academic groups to repurpose 9 of those compounds (see "Nine starters from AstraZeneca").

Six additional companies-Eli Lilly and Co., GlaxoSmithKline plc, Pfizer Inc.,

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