Who We Are

What is the RI-INBRE Molecular Informatics Core?

On July 1, 2021, the RI-INBRE Bioinformatics Core merged with the sequencing component of the URI Genomics and Sequencing Core to form the RI-INBRE Molecular Informatics Core.  The new core is organized around the new NIH mandate for INBRE programs to maintain a Data Science Core for Biomedical Research.

“Modern biomedical research is becoming increasingly quantitative and reliant on computational methods, with growing use of large and complex datasets to address biomedical research questions and advance human health. NIH recently released its Strategic Plan for Data Science that highlights the need for the next generation of researchers to be equipped with the skills of this growing interdisciplinary field and its impact for advancing human health. The Core… should provide training to expose undergraduate students to data-science research and engage a broader community with expertise in biomedical data sciences and related disciplines such as machine learning, deep learning, artificial intelligence, and virtual-reality technologies.”

 

Why Molecular Informatics?

Prior to the merger, the RI-INBRE Bioinformatics Core already provided services beyond traditional bioinfomatics, including molecular modeling and virtual/augmented reality applications for teaching and research.  To reflect this broad scope, we chose to rebrand the core from Bioinformatics to Molecular Informatics.  The journal Molecular Informatics defines the field as:

“…interdisciplinary research that leads to a deeper understanding of biomolecular complexes on the level of biological systems that are relevant for drug discovery and chemical biology, protein and nucleic acid engineering and design, bio-nanomolecular structures, macromolecular assemblies, molecular networks and systems, pharmaco- and chemogenomics, virtual screening, and novel technologies for the design of biologically active molecules.”

Molecular Informatics is an expansive term that encompasses the bioinformatics, sequencing, molecular modeling and VR/AR applications that the original RI-INBRE Bioinformatics Core and URI Genomics and Sequencing Center provided while allowing us room for future growth into new research areas.

INBRE is focused on biomedical science.  Will the Core help with environmental science as well?

At the MIC, our philosophy is that everything is an environment, whether it’s the ocean or a human being.  The RI-INBRE focus areas are Cancer, Neuroscience and Environmental Health Science, the later of which encompasses a broad range of topics including toxicology, natural products and environmental health.  The original GSC was funded by NSF EPSCoR and served many users who study environmental science and we would like to continue serving those users as well.  Prior to coming to URI, Dr. Hemme spent 15 years studying environmental microbiology and metagenomics related to bioenergy, bioremediation, and human health.  Janet Atoyan of the GSC will continue managing the sequencing services of the MIC as a member of RI-INBRE.  Our goal is to continue providing services to both the biomedical and environmental research communities in Rhode Island.

What services does the Core provide?

You can find a list of all of our services on the Services and Resources page.

Where is the Core located?

The MIC is based in Avedisian Hall at the University of Rhode Island.  Janet Atoyan and sequencing resources are located in the RI-INBRE Centralized Research Core Facility in Room 405.  Dr. Hemme is located in Room 495K in the RI-INBRE suite.  Additional MIC resources including computers, software, VR equipment and 3D printer can be found in the 3D Visualization Lab in Room 292.

Who manages the Core?

Dr. Chris Hemme is the MIC Director and handles bioinformatics, molecular modeling and VR/AR.  Janet Atoyan manages the sequencing component of the Core.