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Sergei Maslov: DOE to Develop Biological Organism Predictive Models

Sergei Maslov

The Energy Department plans to move into the production phase for a computational tool scientists use to analyze, store and share biological data, Brookhaven National Laboratory said Aug. 29.

DOE’s Lawrence Berkeley, Argonne, Brookhaven and Oak Ridge national laboratories developed the Systems Biology Knowledgebase computational platform to gather data on plants, microbes, microbial communities and their interactions.

Biologists use the computational tool to test hypotheses, predict biological behavior, design new functions for organisms and perform experiments.

“Quantitative approaches to biology were significantly developed during the last decade, and for the first time, we are now in a position to construct predictive models of biological organisms,” said Sergei Maslov, principal investigator for Brookhaven’s role in the project and associate chief science officer for the overall project.

“KBase allows research groups to share and analyze data generated by their project, put it into context with data generated by other groups, and ultimately come to a much better quantitative understanding of their results,” he added.

KBase features a Narrative Interface for non-programmer scientists to create a narrative of their data by using pre-coded programs that work through human intervention to interpret their output, as well as the IRIS Interface web-based command terminal for researchers to run programs.

The computational platform also serves as a social network, through which researchers share their data with other users.

DOE has partnered with Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, the Joint Genome Institute, the Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory and the DOE Bioenergy Centers for the project with funding from the DOE’s Office of Science.

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