Open-source lab launches in Australia

On June 11, 2013, Queensland University of Technology (QUT) launched the Open Source Software Group and Virtual Lab at the university’s new Science and Engineering Center in the heart of Brisbane. This exciting venture will enable students to create software solutions for real-world problems—through emerging projects, such as Glycogen (a learning environment built for the…


HLA-C: An Underappreciated Force in HIV Control

Although medical science has made great progress in managing HIV infection through modern drugs, 1.7 million people die of AIDS each year, with a disproportionate number of deaths in developing countries. Even access to life saving drugs cannot cure the disease: patients require lifelong drug maintenance and face the never-ending danger of developing resistance or…


Cloud Computing Unlocks Drug Discovery

Antibiotics, antivirals, NSAIDs—the list of modern “wonder drugs” goes on and on. And yet many diseases remain resistant to drug therapy, and in other instances, the side effects of drug treatment are as bad as or worse than the disorder. Why, the public wonders, aren’t more new and better drugs coming to market?  The answer, in…


Supercomputing on Demand with Windows Azure

Think about supercomputers of the recent past. Just 15 years ago, supercomputers were rare and exotic machines. Government laboratories in the United States and Japan spent hundreds of millions of dollars on custom computing rigs and specialized facilities to house them, in a bid to tackle the world’s toughest problems. But now there is an…


Identifying Genetic Factors in Disease with Big Data

It’s long been known that many serious diseases—including heart disease, asthma, and many forms of cancer—run in families. Until fairly recently, however, medical researchers have had no easy way of identifying the particular genes that are associated with a given malady. Now genome-wide association studies, which take advantage of our ability to sequence a person’s…


Arming the Immune System Against HIV

In the now decades-long battle against HIV and AIDS, researchers have been stymied by the virus’s ability to evade attacks by our immune system. Normally, a cell that is infected by a pathogen displays on its surface characteristic pieces of the pathogen peptides, known as epitopes, which are then recognized by the body’s immune system…


Coevolution of Viruses and the Immune System Study Featured in Journal of Virology

Researchers believe that pathogens are evolving to evade detection from the human immune system. I recently co-published a paper that discussed research into the ongoing evolutionary struggle between the immune system and pathogens. In this study, we sought to identify possible commonalities in HLA (human leukocyte antigen) binding preferences that would reveal patterns of optimization…


Microsoft Researchers Present New Statistical Method for Genetic Analysis

A deeper understanding of a disease’s genetic underpinnings can lead to better biological insight into the disease and, thus, to improvements in screening, treatment, and drug development. This week, Jennifer Listgarten, David Heckerman, and Carl Kadie of Microsoft Research and Eric E. Schadt of Pacific Biosciences made a significant contribution to researchers’ insight into the…