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HOUSTON -- (September 27, 2013) -- The National Science Foundation has recognized two Baylor College of Medicine researchers, along with a researcher from The University of Texas at Austin, with a collaborative research award that is a joint initiative between the NSF Division of Mathematical Sciences and National Institute of General Medical Sciences to support research at the interface of the biological and mathematical sciences.

The award entitled, "Statistical Methods for Integrated Analysis of High-Throughput Biomedical Data", was granted to Dr. Zhandong Liu, assistant professor of pediatrics at BCM and the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute at Texas Children's Hospital (NRI); Dr. Genevera Allen, assistant professor of pediatrics-neurology at BCM and the NRI as well as assistant professor of statistics and electrical engineering at Rice University; Dr. Matthew Anderson, assistant professor of OB/GYN at BCM; and Dr. Pradeep Ravikumar, assistant professor of computer science at UT - Austin.

The grant will support their research focused on statistical tools needed to analyze and "mine"data to discover biomarkers, drug targets, disrupted disease networks and disease sub-types.

Liu and his colleagues will seek to address two issues that have made this effort challenging.

First, next generation sequencing technology produces varied data sets that do not fit into standard statistical models. Second, in order for scientists to leverage all of their data and understand the complete molecular basis of disease, these varied sets need to be combined into a unified statistical model. Their proposal seeks to address these two issues with a new statistical framework for integrated analysis of multiple sets of high-dimensional data.

This research will be applied to cancer genomics data and will have the potential to make scientific discoveries critical for personalized medicine. Beyond medicine, the theoretical framework and statistical methods could lead to significant advances in the theory of exponential families, statistical learning and the emerging field of integrative analysis.

The National Science Foundation is an independent federal agency and funds approximately 20 percent of all federally supported basic research conducted by America’s colleges and universities.