NIH grant kickstarts UALR project to enhance cancer treatment

Mary Yang

With the help of a nearly $400,000 federal grant, a University of Arkansas at Little Rock professor will soon launch a project that ultimately might improve cancer diagnosis and treatment.

The National Institutes of Health awarded Dr. Mary Yang a $373,520 grant for her project investigating the relationship between genes and the development of cancer.

During the course of her research project, Yang will develop computational approaches for observing and tracking genetic mutations.

Yang is a UALR associate professor in the Department of Information Science and the director of bioinformatics, a joint program of UALR and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.

The three-year project is renewable for up to six years and will include annual research goals. Dr. Kenji Yoshigoe, a collaborator in the effort, is director of the UALR Computational Research Center, where the supercomputing portion of the research project will occur.

In addition to its potential contributions to cancer and precision medicine research, the project will give students valuable experience in developing computer approaches to biomedical problems.

Dr. Mary Yang
Dr. Mary Yang

With 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 Yang in promoting synergistic research and education at UALR.

The potential benefits of the project extend beyond research and student growth.

“In the future we will collaborate with UAMS to transfer our results to clinical practice,” Yang said. “We aim to extend our computational framework to other types of disorders.”

The project begins July 1.

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