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ISI Expands Genomics Collaboration into Mental Health Research

Three researchers will work with Rutgers University to analyze genetic connections to a variety of psychiatric disorders

December 11, 2008 —

The Viterbi School's Information Sciences Institute will be part of a new Center for Genomic Studies on Mental Disorders, funded by a five-year, $42.4-million grant from the National Institutes of Mental Health.

The center will be headquartered at the Rutgers University campus in New Brunswick, N.J.

Ewa Deelman, left, and Jose-Luis Ambite

The funding will support maintenance of a comprehensive lab, clinical databases and computational infrastructure to fund national and international research focused on autism, bipolar disorder, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder and schizophrenia, according to Rutgers.

ISI's role will be the development of advanced computational technologies, following up on its existing collaboration with Rutgers on an NIH program aimed at understanding the hereditary roots of diseases.

ISI researchers Jose-Luis Ambite and Ewa Deelman, who are part of that effort, will also participate in the new study.

Deelman, a project leader who is adapting her group's Pegasus Workflow Management System to guide the NIH data acquisition system, will perform a parallel role for the NIMH work.

Likewise, senior ISI research scientist Ambite, who is already doing data structuring and integration, will continue and expand his efforts, building on the expertise of the ISI Information Integration group.

Marcus Thiebaux
ISI systems programmer Marcus Thiebaux will also be part of the new effort, developing new ways to visualize the data structured and integrated by his colleagues.

"This is our first foray into genomics," said Yigal Arens, director of the ISI Intelligent Systems Division.

Washington University will also be part of the Mental Health Genomics effort, along with the StarLIMS company, which markets an off-the-shelf lab information management system.