Richard J. Roberts, PhD
Sir Richard Roberts is the
Chief Scientific Officer at New England Biolabs,
Dr. Roberts considers the problem of functional annotation of genes found in newly sequenced bacterial and archaeal genomes of great importance, and wishes this challenge to be addressed effectively.
Title and Abstract:
COMBREX A project to increase the experimental validation of functional predictions.
New England Biolabs, Ipswich, MA, USA
In the last few years DNA sequencing has become very inexpensive to a point where most single organism biological studies begin by sequencing its genome. While the sequencing is easy, the interpretation of that sequence is difficult. COMBREX is a new, international project to find the function of new genes in prokaryotic genomes. It involves bioinformatics and biochemical experimentation. It highlights the need for a gold standard set of experimentally validated proteins of known sequence and function. The implementation offers excellent opportunities for students to become involved in some real scientific research and thereby encourage young students to become scientists. In the talk I will describe the COMBREX project and place it into the larger context of the current needs of biology, both for the basic purposes of understanding life and also as a stepping stone to clinical applications in combating infectious diseases. Because individual aspects of the project are relatively inexpensive it provides an excellent opportunity for institutions with limited resources to participate in cutting edge science and perhaps even make some exciting discoveries.