Dec 18, 2008

Ruan receives $434K NIH grant, wins DREAM reverse engineering challenge!

Jianhua Ruan, an Assistant Professor in the department of Computer Science, has received a 4-year $433,500 grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to support his research on "Computational Discovery and Analysis of Community Structures in Biological Networks".

Biological networks are mathematical models that describe the interactions among molecules in the cell and are critical to understanding complex biological systems.These networks are difficult to analyze, however, as they often contain thousands of nodes and have extremely high noise. Dr. Ruan proposes to analyze biological networks at the level of communities, i.e., groups of molecules that are involved in similar biological processes. According to Dr. Ruan, this view will significantly reduce the complexity of biological networks and improve the understanding of many complex biological events such as diseases. To enable this view, Ruan and his students will develop computational methods for automatically identifying communities in large networks, and then apply these methods to several gene networks in human and other organisms. The long-term goals of this research are to establish a connection between the structure of biological networks and the dynamic behavior of complex biological systems, and to exploit such information to address a number of health-related applications such as disease classification and drug target selection.

Ruan was also identified as a top performer in the 3rd DREAM (Dialogue on Reverse Engineering Assessment and Methods) Challenge, an annual international conference that focuses on evaluating systems biology tools for building biological networks.

Interested parties should contact Dr. Ruan for more information.