Autism, entomology and microRNAs in cancer may not have much in common, but three enthusiastic researchers studying these areas are the recipients of NextBio travel grants this month: Congratulations Catarina Correia, Malay Bhattacharyya and Stephanie Weldon!
Stephanie is a graduate student in entomology at the University of Georgia, studying symbiotic interactions in insects and bacteria. We were excited to learn how she used NextBio in her studies of Shiga toxins. As she describes her research:
“I study insect-bacterium symbioses and associated mobile genetic elements, where the lateral transfer of both infectious agent and genetic material requires me to cross-reference very diverse data sets, a circumstance that makes NextBio’s search apps very appealing. Sorted results, rather than restricted results, allow researchers to quickly take in large amounts of data without artificially limiting the potential for productive cross-fertilization from more distant sources.”
Tied with Stephanie for second place is Malay Bhattacharyya, a computer scientist turned biologist at the Indian Statistical Institute. As part of his graduate research in machine intelligence, he uses in silico approaches to demonstrate the involvement of two oncogenic miRNAs in leukemia and prostate cancer. Though he found “no earlier databases validating (his) hypothesis”, Malay adds that he found NextBio’s detailed statistics helpful:
“NextBio provides the results in Disease Atlas together with p-values, fold changes, copy number changes and z-scores. The ranking by statistical significance make the results very much practical to the researchers. It strengthens the results and makes it more justifiable.”
We were thrilled to hear that these statistics on his data supported Malay’s research!
Catarina Correia is a post-doctoral researcher in computational genomics and neurogenetics at the Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência who works on protein networks in autism spectrum disorders. Catarina’s essay describes the importance of aggregate analysis of disease-linked gene variants to identify groups of affected pathways or biological processes. Her essay outlines how she used NextBio to identify protein sub-networks potentially important in autism and combine data from GWAS, expression profiles, CNV and mutation screenings. As she describes her analysis of public datasets:
“Information from several apps, especially Knockdown Atlas have elucidated possible mechanisms by which this gene can be implicated in autism, most of them required analysis of public datasets and are not fully described in the papers, helping us in the design of follow up studies.”
We will share the winning essays in this space over the next few weeks, so check back to hear more about these exciting research areas. We will be announcing the next round of travel grants soon, so keep an eye on this space as well!