DBMI’s Gopalakrishnan Participating in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Research

Vanathi Gopalakrishnan, PhD, a primary faculty member at the Department of Biomedical Informatics, is also serving as an affiliated faculty member at the University of Pittsburgh Center for ALS Research.

The Center for ALS Research integrates and coordinates research and clinical activities by investigators and clinicians in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) and other motor neuron diseases. The Center, directed by Robert Bowser, PhD, includes a multidisciplinary clinic for patient care and numerous basic science laboratories searching for causes and treatments of ALS. The Center for ALS Research also administers the Stephen Tuttle ALS Tissue Donation Program, providing a resource for human tissue samples for ALS and control subjects for use in research both within the University of Pittsburgh and throughout the country.

Gopalakrishnan’s two-year research collaboration with Bowser involves cerebrospinal fluid profiling of ALS and with proteomic data mining of the mass spectra to identify disease-specific biomarkers. Gopalakrishnan’s long-term interests include learning of useful models for predicting disease onset and progression from integration of clinical information with genomic and proteomic markers.

A Pitt Innovator Award was presented to Gopalakrishnan in 2006 for successfully licensing technology developed in her (and Bruce Buchanan’s) laboratory to a biotech startup company in Pittsburgh called Knopp Neurosciences, Inc. that performs biomarker validation studies. The technology employs rule learning to discover potential disease-specific biomarkers from proteomic mass spectra.

Gopalakrishnan is an assistant professor of biomedical informatics in the School of Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh. Gopalakrishnan has secondary appointments in the Intelligent Systems Program and the Department of Computational Biology. Her research encompasses the development and application of symbolic, probabilistic and hybrid machine learning techniques to the mining of structural and genomic databases in order to learn useful, robust models and associations. Gopalakrishnan is fundamentally interested in technologies that aid knowledge discovery by incorporating prior knowledge. Her current collaborative projects include modeling of protein sequence-structure-function relationships and identification of disease-specific proteomic biomarkers for neurodegenerative diseases and lung cancer. Gopalakrishnan is the recipient of a five-year K25 Mentored Quantitative Research Career Award from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences.

For additional information, please see:

* The Center for ALS Research at the University of Pittsburgh (Web site): www.alsresearchcenter.org/
* Vanathi Gopalakrishnan, PhD (DBMI profile): www.dbmi.pitt.edu/fac/gopalakrishnan.html

Post Date: 
Saturday, June 6, 2009
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