Ohio Bioinformatics Conference Set for June 28

COLUMBUS, Ohio (Jun 9, 2006) — 

New Conference to Connect Ohio’s Biosciences Research Leaders

The Inaugural Ohio Collaborative Conference on Bioinformatics (OCCBIO) is set for June 28-30, 2006, at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio. 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.

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. To register online, or for more information, visit www.occbio.org.

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.”

Dr. Anthony J. Dennis, Omeris president and CEO, will present on “Driving Technology Convergence through Collaboration Bioinformatics.” Professor Dan Gusfield, founding editor-in-chief of the IEEE/ACM Transactions on Bioinformatics Journal, will discuss “Combinatorial Optimization Problems from Population Genomics.” Bruce Johnson, Ohio lieutenant governor and department of development director, will also be presenting at the conference.

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

The conference is chaired by Lonnie Welch, associate professor of computer science and director of the Center for Intelligent, Distributed and Dependable Systems at Ohio University’s Russ College of Engineering and Technology. Co-chairs are Josh Ellis of OSU, Terry Lewis and Eric Stahlberg of OSC, and David Wight, director of the Edison Biotechnology Institute at Ohio University.

Omeris, founded in 1987 as theEdison BioTechnology Center, is a non-profit organization designed to build and accelerate Ohio’s bioscience industry, research, and education. As Ohio's bioscience membership and development organization, it is focused on networking the state’s distributed and outstanding bioscience assets to promote regional, national, and global best-of-class competitiveness and growth.

Innovative Ohio bioscience companies—many of them members of Omeris—revitalize Ohio’s economy while developing critical tools, treatments, and technologies that benefit the world. Omeris is a focal point for the bioscience and biotechnology community, providing networking and educational events, continually developing web-based resources, addressing public policy, and analyzing resource and funding issues.

Leslie Southern, director of High Performance Computing at OSC, 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, a biosciences researcher at OSC, said computing technology and software in the bio-research communities have finally evolved from desktop applications to real High Performance Computing (HPC).

“This has opened the door to finally 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.”

Stahlberg said the current biosciences effort began in earnest early 2001, as a consequence of OSC’s focused exploration on application portals for bioinformatics users.

“We purchased the TimeLogic FPGA (Field Programmable Gate Array) boards at that time, and successfully deployed them in the SunFire 6800 systems, a first for the company's technology,” Stahlberg said. “OSC still maintains those boards today for high-speed searching of bioinformatics databases.”

Stahlberg said OSC has become a nationally recognized interdisciplinary center where multiple fields, including chemistry, physics, computer science, biology and mathematics, are centered on high performance computing and where technologies are combined to accelerate progress in biological and medical research.

 “One of the most important aspects of systems biology is a willingness to learn new things, and an interest in working together to meet new challenges,” Stahlberg said. “Hence, the OCCBIO conference.”

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