Dr. Mary Yang awarded $373,520 from NIH

Dr. Mary Yang, associate professor and director of UALR-UAMS joint bioinformatics program, has been awarded a $373,520 grant from the National Institute of Health (NIH) to launch her research project investigating the relationship between genes and the development of cancer. The project, which focuses on developing and utilizing computational methods by which the genetic mutations that cause cancer can be observed and tracked, could be instrumental in improving cancer diagnoses and treatments.

Describing the goals and methodologies of the project, Dr. Yang states that “In this project, we will develop a novel approach to infer disease-causing genes and networks by integrating information from multiple types of data including genomic variations, gene expression and protein interactions.” The project will take place over a three-year span and is renewable to six years, with different research goals marking each year. Dr. Kenji Yoshigoe, Director of UALR Computational Research Center, is the collaborator of the project. The supercomputing portion of the research project will be carried out at UALR Computational Research Center.

In addition to its potential contributions to the cancer and precision medicine research, the project will give students valuable experience in developing computational approaches to biomedical problems. With Dr. Yang serving as the principal investigator, both undergraduate and graduate students in the joint UALR-UAMS Bioinformatics program will participate in research work throughout the project. Dr. Elizabeth Pierce, Chair of Information Science, will work closely with Dr. Yang in promoting synergistic research and education at UALR.

The potential benefits of the project, which will focus on cancer genomics, extend beyond research and student growth. Dr. Yang asserts that “In the future we will collaborate with UAMS to transfer our results to clinical practice. We aim to extend our computational framework to other types of disorders.” The project will begin on July 1, 2015.


*Research reported in this publication was supported by National Institute of General Medical Sciences of the National Institutes of Health under award number R15GM114739-01.

*Disclaimer: The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.


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