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Stanford team, Northrup Grumman to partner on bioinformatics work

- By Bruce Goldman

Atul Butte, MD, PhD, associate professor of pediatrics and of pathology and chief of systems medicine in pediatrics, will lead a Stanford team partnering with Northrop Grumman Corp. to help investigators throughout the country find and re-use data to answer new scientific questions.

Butte has been named principal investigator for the bioinformatics support contract by the National Institutes of Health and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. The purpose of this contract is to maintain and expand existing repositories for clinical and high-throughput measurements made by NIAID-funded investigators so that these measurements can be reused in new experiments.

The Stanford team's efforts will be geared toward forming collaborations to drive scientific discoveries using those data sets and developing tools to enable others to browse and find data in the repositories. Proceeds to the Stanford collaborators could be as much as $6 million over five years, with a potential $30 million for the entire contract (HHSN272201200028C).

The Butte-led team will work in partnership with the Northrop Grumman, which was initially awarded the contract in 2004. Also participating with Butte's group are the laboratories of Mark Davis, PhD, professor of microbiology and immunology and director of the Stanford Institute for Immunity, Transplantation and Infection; and Garry Nolan, PhD, professor of microbiology and immunology.

Butte has mined publicly available databases to unearth surprising similarities in the molecular pathologies of seemingly distant diseases, and has shown in proof-of-principle experiments that drugs approved for one disorder in such a pair can be effective against the other. One of his recent studies, for instance, suggested that a common anti-ulcer drug and an anti-seizure medication may be effective for, respectively, a form of lung cancer and inflammatory bowel disease.

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2022 ISSUE 1

Understanding the world within us

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