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Bristol bioinformatics resource gets over a thousand citations

11 February 2011

In the Computer Science department Dr Julian Gough’s research group has clocked up over 1,000 citations in the scientific literature for the bioinformatics project, SUPERFAMILY.

In 2009, we celebrated Darwin’s bicentenary and still his basic principle of natural selection driving evolution is upheld, both at the level of the organism and as we now know, at the molecular level.  We gained the first picture of molecular evolution over 50 years ago with the discovery of DNA and we have now had the human genome for nearly a decade, but the expected revelations that were promised are yet to materialise. This is because the genetic code by itself is a meaningless string of data; what is important is the bioinformatics analysis of this data, often in combination with other experimental data.

The SUPERFAMILY analysis invented by Dr Julian Gough uses 3D protein structure data to analyse the genomic sequence to tell us not only about their atomic detail, but also their evolution and functional role in the whole organism. SUPERFAMILY has had such an impact on the scientific community that, as of 2011, it has now been cited by other published work over 1,000 times. The website is accessed on average more than once a second from up to 14,000 addresses per month, and almost 2,000 software and data licenses have been requested from academia and industry.

Coinciding with the 1,000th citation of SUPERFAMILY, this month work on the project by the Gough group was awarded a grant from Google in the USA, adding to grants from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and the EU making a total of over £1 million in funding. Also this month a new article was published in the journal Nucleic Acids Research describing the latest updates to the analysis. With the explosion of sequencing data coming from new next generation sequencing technologies, the importance of this kind of analysis crucial to our understanding of nature, medicine and synthetic biology is only going to continue to rise.

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