Computational Biology Research Shared at Keck Center's Latest Annual Conference

Each year, the W.M. Keck Center for Computational Biology sets aside a day in an informal setting to present and share leading-edge research and discuss future directions in biology and biomedicine. More than 100 participants from the Keck Center and other institutions in the Houston area attended the 1998 Annual Research Conference on Computational Biology, held November 20 in Galveston, Texas. The conference featured four plenary talks, approximately 50 posters, the Best Poster Award, and numerous software demonstrations and informal discussions.

Plenary talks at the conference included "Emerging Styles of Computing: Network as a Computer," by George Phillips, Rice Professor of Biochemistry and Cell Biology and Scientific and Training Director of the Keck Center; "Design of Miniproteins," by Robert Fox, senior scientist, Sealy Center for Structural Biology, University of Texas Medical Branch; "Did You Hear the One About the Traveling Salesman?" by Bill Cook, Noah Harding Professor of Computational and Applied Mathematics and CRPC researcher; and "A Primer: Genes, Genomes, and Their Computational Analysis," by Olivier Lichtarge, assistant professor, Department of Molecular & Human Genetics, Baylor College of Medicine.

Other topics covered by posters, demonstrations, and discussions included such diverse studies as structures of rotavirus antibody complexes, analysis of sperm whale myoglobin, and using genetic data to identify population growth patterns. The Dunn Prize, awarded to the poster(s) most representative of the theme of bringing computational methods to bear on biological or biomedical problems, was presented to Rice Physics Department graduate student Thad Harroun for his poster, "Computer Simulation of Hydrophobic Matching and Membrane Protein Interactions." Willy Hwang, a Keck Center undergraduate fellow in Baylor College of Medicine's Department of Medicine, received the Best Undergraduate Poster Prize for "In-vitro Mechanics of the Costal Mouse Diaphram."

Now in its ninth year, the W.M. Keck Center is a joint effort of Rice University, Baylor College of Medicine, and the University of Houston. Administratively based at Rice, the center was originally established with support from the W.M. Keck Foundation for the purpose of fostering collaboration among biologists, biomedical researchers, computer scientists, mathematicians, and others in order to develop and deploy new, more powerful tools for biological research. The center has since matured into a self-supporting operation that attracts a broad base of funding for its innovative training programs that integrate the computational aspects of simulation, imaging, and sequence analysis with a solid foundation in biophysics, biochemistry, and genetics. The center is currently supported by the Dunn Foundation, the National Library of Medicine, and the National Science Foundation.

For more information about the W.M. Keck Center for Computational Biology, see

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