Kihara Receives NSF Grant


Associate Professor of Biological Sciences and Computer Science Daisuke Kihara is the recipient of a research grant from the National Science Foundation. The grant is for an estimated total of $480,195.00 through May 2016.

The project that earned this NSF grant is titled ABI Innovation: Protein Functional Sites Identification Using Sequence Variation. Kihara is the single principal investigator.

Kihara, who joined the Departments of Computer Science and Biological Sciences in 2003, has research interests that lie in bioinformatics and computational biology, specifically protein tertiary structure prediction/comparison, protein sequence analysis, the evolution of protein families, and metabolic/regulatory pathway analysis.

The project for which this grant was awarded involves developing "novel computational methods that identify functional regions of proteins by revealing mutations patterns, which are constrained by functional requirements," according to its abstract. "Protein sequences and the tertiary structures have been accumulated in an exponential pace partly due to large-scale genome sequencing and structural genomics projects. An urgent task for bioinformatics includes the development of methods for annotating the flood of new sequences and structures with their functions and the location of sites where these functions occur. Two types of methods will be developed: The first type of methods examine amino acid mutations specific to known functional regions of proteins. The second type of methods identifies positions in proteins that mutate simultaneously in a mutually constrained fashion. A strong advantage of the methods is that it is general enough so that it can be easily extended to predict many types of functional sites and structure features of proteins. The project capitalizes on tremendous efforts and progress made by experimental sequence and structure determination by developing a new generation of computational tools that detect structured variation, rather than conventional conservation, in protein sequences."

More information about this project can be found on the website of the Kihara Bioinformatics Laboratory.

Congratulations to Professor Kihara and his team on this award!