New Bioinformatics Conference Showcases Ohio Supercomputer Center (OSC) Services for Researchers

Athens, Ohio – June 26, 2006 – OSC announces its active role in planning and participating in the Inaugural Ohio Collaborative Conference on Bioinformatics (OCCBIO) set for June 28-30, at Ohio University.  The conference provides an interdisciplinary forum for discussing research findings and experiences in computational approaches to biology-related problems. An important conference goal is to foster long-term collaborative relationships among informatics and life sciences researchers from academia, government and industry spanning interests across Ohio.

Terry Lewis, research program coordinator at OSC and founding co-chair for OCCBIO, said he and other organizers first met in January 2005 to discuss creating a bioinformatics conference in Ohio. 

Three of OSC’s research staff will conduct one of the five tutorial sessions during the first day of the conference, focusing on bioinformatics resources. OSC staff members conducting the following tutorials include Kevin Wohlever, director of operations for OSC-Springfield, Introduction to Computational Resources, Yuan Zhang, systems developer/engineer at OSC-Springfield, Introduction to Bioinformatics Software, and Pete Carswell, systems developer engineer for OSC-Columbus, Introduction to Perl for Bioinformatics.

As part of the OCCBIO technical program, Eric Stahlberg, OSC systems biology researcher, will jointly present on Genome-Wide Identification and Comparative Analysis of Coiled-Coil Proteins with Annkatrin Rose, postdoctoral researcher, and Iris Meier, associate professor, of The Ohio State University’s Department of Plant Cellular and Molecular Biology Center. 

Lewis said other OSC staff contributed significantly to the OCCBIO conference by providing website construction, print design, equipment logistics, securing sponsorships, and other activities and in-kind services.

OSC’s networking division will provide live videoconferencing of OCCBIO’s keynote speeches and industry panel. These will be available to watch at OSC-Columbus, OSC-Springfield and the Nelson Commons facility at Ohio University.

“This is a “proof-of-concept” activity,” Lewis said. “People can come to any of these three locations to see these parts of the conference. The important thing is that it works, it’s live, and it provides an opportunity for those who can’t attend the conference in person.”

Leslie Southern, OSC high performance computing (HPC) director, said the Center has an array of computational environments that support biological research including the SGI Altix, Cray X1, Apple G5 cluster, HP Intel Itanium-2 cluster, and Intel Pentium 4 cluster, as well as nearly two dozen software applications.
“Another key infrastructure requirement OSC provides for biologists is an integrated mass storage system,” Southern said. “The Center has more than 400 terabytes of disk to help researchers compute with large volumes of data.”

Eric Stahlberg, OSC biosciences researcher, indicated that OSC’s biosciences effort began in earnest in early 2001, as a result of OSC’s focused exploration on application portals for bioinformatics users.

“HPC has opened the door to using bioinformatics and systems biology to explore complex relationships among data, and created the opportunity to tackle very large and involved simulations of biological systems,” Stahlberg said. “So many centers have jumped on the bandwagon because the number of opportunities for impact is nearly limitless.”

OCCBIO will feature 13 technical sessions, 62 oral presentations and 50 poster presentations. More than 40 of Ohio’s academic, industrial and government organizations will participate.

Internationally and nationally known keynote speakers include Dr. John Weinstein, head of the Gene Expression Profiling and Bioinformatics Group at the National Cancer Institute’s Center for Cancer Research Laboratory of Molecular Pharmacology.  Weinstein will speak on “Bioinformatics in Drug Discovery: Intergromic Molecular Profiling and the Miner Suite.”

Conference sponsors include Ohio University and its Edison Biotechnology Institute, Kent State University, the Ohio Department of Development, OSU and its College of Mathematical and Physical Sciences, OSC, Wright State University, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, GenoLogics, Miami University, Omeris, and the Thermo Electron Corporation.

For more information about OCCBIO and to register, go to www.occbio.org. Or contact Pat Davidson at 740/593-1767 or Davidson@ohio.edu.

About OSC
Established in 1987, OSC is a technology initiative of the Ohio Board of Regents. OSC serves Ohio by connecting HPC, the nation’s foremost state-of-the-art research network, and a deep pool of expertise dedicated to advancing research in the public and private sectors. OSC plays a key role in fueling Ohio’s emerging high tech economy by enabling frontline research, cutting-edge information technology, and new industrial growth.  More information is available at http://www.osc.edu.

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