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Jennifer Steinbachs
Center for Genomics and Bioinformatics

Last modified: Thursday, October 13, 2005

IU Center for Genomics and Bioinformatics celebrates five years of discoveries

Oct. 13, 2005

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- It only turns 5 years old this month, but the Indiana University Center for Genomics and Bioinformatics has already brought to IU Bloomington $21 million for research, helped map two genomes and added about 40 employees to its burgeoning staff.

"The Center for Genomics and Bioinformatics is a model of success in our research community at Indiana University," said Michael A. McRobbie, IU vice president for research and information technology. "Not only is it a stellar example of collaboration and establishing partners across varying disciplines, but it bolsters our goal for securing a nationally respected hub for basic life sciences research in Bloomington."

Photo by: David Bricker

The Center for Genomics and Bioinformatics was created in 2000. Above, CGB Staff Scientist Kevin Bogart prepares a robot for high-speed genomics work.

Print-Quality Photo

The center was created in 2000 by the Office of the Vice President for Research and the College of Arts and Sciences with seed funding from the Indiana Genomics Initiative, or INGEN. IUB biologist Peter Cherbas is its first director. CGB staff are currently working on 12 projects with collaborators in the departments of Biology, Mathematics, and Physics, the School of Informatics and the School of Medicine. The center occupies 4,000 square feet in Jordan and Myers halls.

Genomics looks at the full complement of genetic material in a given organism. Bioinformatics is a professional discipline that seeks to make vast amounts of biological data useful to scientists through the application of information technology.

CGB participated in the first transcribed genetic map of the sunflower, which will help researchers identify genes that control the economically important crop's ecological and agricultural traits. The center is also identifying the interactions among different species of bacteria that live in the disease-carrying tick Amblyomma americanum. A new collaboration with biology faculty, enabled by the purchase of a laser capture microscope, examines tissue-specific gene expression in Drosophila (fruit flies).

Center researchers have been awarded a number of grants and awards to support their research. IUB biologist Michael Lynch received a National Science Foundation Biocomplexity grant in 2002 to develop high-tech tools for studying Daphnia (water fleas), a popular model organism. In 2003, the NSF awarded IU School of Informatics Assistant Professor Sun Kim a CAREER grant for his work on computational environments for genome projects, now called PlatCom. Also in 2003, a research group led by CGB won a prestigious award at the High Performance Computing Challenge at Supercomputing.

The Drosophila Genomics Resource Center, a member of the International Drosophila Array Consortium, was established under CGB in 2003 to provide low-cost DNA microarrays with a $4 million grant, and the center began accepting orders for DNA clones, vectors, cell lines and microarrays through its e-commerce Web site in 2004. "Through the DGRC, we distribute multiple microarray platforms to the Drosophila community, and we develop new genomic technologies which facilitate a better understanding of gene function," said CGB Deputy Director Jennifer Steinbachs.

In 2004, Cherbas and colleagues at the University of Notre Dame and Purdue University received an award from the Indiana 21st Century Fund to renew and expand the Indiana Center for Insect Genomics. "This collaboration solidifies Indiana's pre-eminence in insect genomics," Steinbachs said.

CGB project leaders presented recent research results to their colleagues on Sept. 16 during a special pre-birthday symposium.

CGB receives continued support from INGEN and METACyt grants (Lilly Endowment Inc.), the National Institutes of Health, the IU Office of the Vice President for Research, the IU Department of Biology, the IU School of Informatics, the U.S. Department of Energy's Joint Genome Institute, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the National Science Foundation.

To speak with Steinbachs or Cherbas, please contact Jennifer Steinbachs at 812-856-1858 or