News

NIH has recently funded a Glycoscience U01 grant

NIH has recently funded a Glycoscience U01 grant entitled:  “Computational and Informatics Resources and Tools for Glycoscience Research.”  Although ongoing technical advances are accelerating the pace and sophistication of data acquisition in glycoscience, the transformation of these data to glycobiology knowledge, insight, and understanding is slowed by the limited number of tools that facilitate their integration with biological knowledge from genetics, proteomics, pathology, and other disciplines. Our grant application describes the development of an integrated, extendable, and cross-disciplinary resource providing tools and data to address specific scientific questions that can currently be answered only by extensive literature-based research and manual collection of data from disparate databases and websites. Using insight gained during our planning grant activities, including a workshop focused on evaluating existing resources and community needs, we propose to develop a broadly relevant and sustainable glycoinformatics resource to connect glycoscience with the explosion of data that is revolutionizing biology. We identified critical gaps that need to be filled and challenges that must be overcome to create an enduring and sustainable glycoinformatics resource that goes beyond mapping glycan data to genes and proteins to identify and integrate diverse multidisciplinary knowledge from EMBL-EBI, NCBI, UniProt, UniCarbKB, CAZy, Gene Ontology and other sources. To maximize synergy among these resources, we propose a new glycan array data repository and enhanced ontologies to facilitate integration of glycan and glycoconjugate expression and interaction data with other information. Evaluating these data in the context of knowledge about genetic mutations, gene expression, protein function and other phenomena will provide new opportunities for systems-level understanding of the roles of glycosylation in disease and development. This comprehensive data integration framework will provide unprecedented support for complex queries spanning diverse data types relevant to glycobiology. Technical advances required to implement this framework include evidence tagging of data, ontology and standards development, and new interfaces that enable data mining, sharing, and dissemination. Community engagement, especially with scientists who do not specialize in glycobiology, will be emphasized to maximize the relevance of our resource. We will develop a portal to make all this information publicly available in standard formats supported by NCBI and EMBL-EBI and in new formats we develop, promoting sharing of data and their ultimate integration into these widely used informatics resources.  See Useful Links:  GlyGen.

The NCBG has submitted an application for a competitive renewal of our Center.

The P41 program, under which we are funded, has been extensively revised and was announced two months prior to our application deadline. In 2012, the National Research Council of The National Academies reviewed the importance and opportunities of Glycoscience, and the resulting report entitled “Transforming Glycoscience: A Road Map for the Future” highlights the importance of glycomics and glycan-related research and training to the nation’s scientific research base.  We hope we will be able to continue to provide collaborations, industry partnerships, DBPs, service and training to the scientific community, impacting those RO1 researchers, some of whom are just now discovering that glycans regulate physiology, disease and disorders on fundamental levels that now can and must be understood.