Collaborative effort crosses disciplines to advance biomedical research.
The National Biomedical Computation Resource (NBCR) at UC San Diego has received $9 million in funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The funding will allow NBCR to continue its work connecting biomedical scientists with supercomputing power and emerging information technologies.
National Biomedical Computation Resource Director Rommie Amaro says renewed funding from the Naitonal Institutes of Health will make it possible for biomedical researchers to study phenomena from the molecular level to the level of the whole organ.
Biomedical computation – which applies physical modeling and computer science to the field of biomedical sciences – is often a cheaper alternative to traditional experimental approaches and can speed the rate at which discoveries are made for host of human diseases and biological processes.
The five-year NIH grant from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences provides funding for everything from staffing and training to developing biomedical research technologies for academic researchers around the world. It involves faculty from UC San Diego’s Physical Sciences, School of Medicine, Jacobs School of Engineering, San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC), as well as faculty from The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI), a private, nonprofit research organization.
“NBCR has evolved tremendously in the 21 years since it was created,” said Amaro, an associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry at UC San Diego and an affiliate of the UC San Diego Qualcomm Institute (QI). “Our main effort remains focused on making connections across diverse scales of biological organization. As scientists, we are very good at looking at particular components of the human body within a single scale, but we ultimately need to connect across three or four scales in order to model and understand complex biological phenomena from the molecular level minutia all the way up to the whole organ.”
NBCR is run under the auspices of the UC San Diego Center for Research in Biological Systems at QI. It provides a collection of computational tools – Web services, graphical models, simulation methods and technologies and workflows – that make it possible for, say, a molecular biologist or neuroscientist to extrapolate how the molecular dynamics in brain cells might affect the whole organ.