Computer Science awarded £1.2 million for biological research
Press release issued: 11 May 2009
Bioinformatics and biological research in the University of Bristol's department of Computer Science has been strengthened thanks to awards totalling £1.2million from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC).
Dr Julian Gough, Reader of Bioinformatics in the Department of Computer Science, conducts research in computational and theoretical molecular biology.
He has been awarded nearly £700,000 to develop and maintain the SUPERFAMILY database for protein domains of known structure in genomes.
The resource has already had a wide impact, collecting over 750 citations, but needs to be made sustainable in the face of the data coming from the rapid acceleration of genome sequencing, structural genomics projects and functional information from high-throughput molecular biology experiments.
Dr James Marshall, Lecturer in Machine Learning and Biological Computation in the Department of Computer Science, is known for his research in behavioural biology and decision-making.
He has received a grant of over £500,000, together with Professor Nigel Franks in the School of Biological Sciences, to investigate group decision-making in social insects.
This experimental and theoretical project will extend Dr Marshall's groundbreaking work on drawing formal parallels between optimal decision-making circuits in the primate brain, and collective decision-making during house-hunting by colonies of rock ants and honeybees.
Drs Gough and Marshall, talking about the award, said: "These two independent awards are a strong indication that the growth area of bioinformatics and biological research has become well established in Computer Science."
Professor Nishan Canagarajah, Head of the Department of Computer Science, added: "This is a major award for Bristol and the first time that Computer Science has received grants by the BBSRC. It will enable us to strengthen life sciences not only within the Department but also across the Faculty and the University. "
From 2010 the Department of Computer Science will offer a Masters degree in Machine Learning and Computational Biology with optional units available to undergraduates.
Further informationAbout BBSRC
The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) is the UK funding agency for research in the life sciences. Sponsored by Government, BBSRC annually invests around £450 million in a wide range of research that makes a significant contribution to the quality of life for UK citizens and supports a number of important industrial stakeholders including the agriculture, food, chemical, healthcare and pharmaceutical sectors. BBSRC carries out its mission by funding internationally competitive research, providing training in the biosciences, fostering opportunities for knowledge transfer and innovation and promoting interaction with the public and other stakeholders on issues of scientific interest in universities, centres and institutes.
The Babraham Institute, Institute for Animal Health, Institute of Food Research, John Innes Centre and Rothamsted Research are Institutes of BBSRC. The Institutes conduct long-term, mission-oriented research using specialist facilities. They have strong interactions with industry, Government departments and other end-users of their research.
For more information see: http://www.bbsrc.ac.uk