UCSD Bioinformatics Researcher Receives Career Award

Ben Raphael; © UCSD

The mathematician and computer scientist from the University of California, San Diego's Jacobs School of Engineering will receive the Career Award and $500,000 over five years from BWF to support his research in the area of high-resolution analysis of tumour genome architectures.

One of five different BWF award programs, the Career Award at the Scientific Interface (CASI) is awarded by the North Carolina-based fund to support physical or computational scientists conducting biological research.

The 30-year-old researcher works at the cutting-edge of genomic science - and health. His work began with an analysis of regulatory sites in the mouse genome analysed for evolutionary implications, including genome rearrangements that account for the different paths humans and rodents have taken since splitting off from a common ancestor roughly 87 million years ago. These rearrangements "happen in cancer naturally," Raphael notes, adding that "by studying the rearrangements we can identify genes that are important for tumour growth, development and malignancy, and these may serve as diagnostics of tumour stages."

"We are up to five tumour genomes that we study, including the genomes for prostate cancer and brain tumours," Raphael adds. "We are looking at rearrangements that are common to certain cell types, and the work is accelerating because the public is putting pressure on science agencies to fund cancer research."

"Cancer in a sense is a breakdown of DNA repair, and the rearrangements that we see are unrepaired mistakes in the process of DNA replication," adds Raphael. "I think this award shows UCSD is a great environment for doing work at the intersection of biological sciences, quantitative mathematics and computer science," says Raphael. "It is an award for UCSD, not just for me."

MEDICA.de; Source: University of California - San Diego