Emory Report
January 29, 2007
Volume 59, Number 17

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January 29 , 2007
Computational and Life Sciences

BY robin tricoles

Imagine sorting, storing and analyzing the three billion molecular base pairs that make up human DNA — all by yourself, without a computer. The task would be insurmountable. But with help from biochemists, geneticists and computer scientists equipped with powerful computers and software, this feat is possible. This is one of the many ideas behind Emory’s new Computational and Life Sciences Initiative.

The CLS Initiative includes three areas of concentration: computational science and informatics, synthetic science and systems biology. The initiative’s aim is to establish a vigorous community of scholars that links basic sciences with applied sciences through collaboration and education across the Health Sciences and Arts and Sciences to arrive at theoretical and applied solutions to important fundamental problems.

“Science is the driving force behind CLS,” said David Lynn, chair of Emory’s Department of Chemistry. “We hope that integrating these three areas and working across disciplines, schools and subjects will lead to fresh knowledge and discoveries in areas such as cancer therapy, imaging and pharmaceuticals.”

“CLS sees itself as a catalyst for bioinformatics and the life sciences. In the 20th century, science broke things down into parts. But in the 21st century, people are seeing how all those parts fit together,” said Lanny Liebeskind, Emory’s director of University Science Strategies. “By building this community of scholars, the result is a whole that is much greater than the sum of individual laboratories, departments and schools.”

Liebeskind says the upcoming year should be an active one for CLS with the search for a director and for new faculty as well as the launch of a Ph.D. and postdoctoral fellow program. To accommodate these new scholars, plans are under way to include offices and a communal workspace on two floors of the future addition to the chemistry building. And in spring 2008, the CLS will hold a conference marking the 150th anniversary of Darwin’s “Origin of Species.”

For more information about the initiative, please visit CLS’s newly launched Web site at www.cls.emory.edu/index.php. The site contains detailed information about CLS, including up-to-date information on CLS fellowships and seminars as well as contact information of potential collaborators. Online forums on CLS-related topics are also available.