BSBC Grant

The goal of this application is to create a core lab facility, the Biomolecular Simulation and Bioinformatics Core (BSBC) Laboratory at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG). This laboratory will contain a high-performance computing (HPC) cluster that will be made available to the academic and scientific community (including BioTech/ BioPharmaceutical companies) in the Piedmont Triad area (Greensboro, Winston-Salem and High Point) whose biotechnology research requires high-performance computing. At present, no HPC resources exist in this region. Both computer-aided molecular design and bioinformatics techniques continue to be important for fueling biotechnology advances. These studies help visualize target structures and engineer desired changes in them. Refined knowledge of targets that emerges from such computational techniques can lead to enhanced information about protein-protein, protein-nucleic acid and protein-ligand interactions that are necessary for such strategies as targeted gene therapy or RNA-interference based therapeutics. Computational time for the atomistic simulations frequently required by such computational problems is significant. This is the reason why compute-intensive applications represent significant bottlenecks in the pipeline for many companies and labs. A resource such as the BSBC lab requested here can, therefore, greatly stimulate biotechnology research in the region.

Research projects proposed in this application include projects submitted by UNCG faculty and by scientists from Targacept (Winston Salem). Additional projects from our sister institution, NC A&T are also included here. These institutions have a strong history of cooperation and interaction. Projects presented here illustrate the range of relevant problems that can be addressed using the HPC cluster requested in this application. These include protein design projects to support targeted gene therapy for chronic pain; fundamental studies aimed at the improvement of RNA-interference-based therapeutics; biomolecular simulation projects aimed at a fundamental understanding of ligand interaction and activation of neuronal nicotinic receptors; reaction trajectory simulations of reductive activation of transcription factor NF-κB; and, molecular mechanics/dynamics studies of enzyme/substrate interactions in Orotidine-5’-O-monophosphate decarboxylase. Fundamental development of computer algorithim projects for biomolecular simulation are also proposed. These include a project to develop the next generation molecular mechanics force field, as well as, a project to develop Rosetta-like ab initio protein folding tools to model with high resolution, hypothetical proteins from genome sequencing projects.

In addition to providing a 25% match for this application, the UNCG College of Arts and Sciences commits to funding a full time Computer Systems Administrator position whose responsibility will be systems administration and maintenance, user support and education for the proposed HPC cluster. A resource management plan is proposed that will allow UNCG to build a HPC core facility that is accessible to all members of the academic and BioTech/BioPharma community in the Piedmont Triad whose work requires high-performance computing for biotechnology projects.

BSBC Grant Details

Grant Title: Biomolecular Simulations and Bioinformatics Core

Grant Number: add grant number here

Grant Program: Institutional Development Grant Program (IDG)

Principal Investigator: Patricia H. Reggio, Ph.D.

Funding: A total of $311,630 was awarded for this grant by the North Carolina Biotechnology Center (75%) and by UNC Greensboro College of Arts and Sciences (25%).

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