Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

University of Texas Medical Branch


Faculty

Bruce Luxon, Ph.D., Professor

Hierarchical clustering of several chemokines using aglomerative nesting to search for hidden patterns in differential gene expression as measure by microarrays.
Hierarchical clustering of several chemokines using aglomerative nesting to search for hidden patterns in differential gene expression as measure by microarrays.

Our major areas of interest are Bioinformatics, Computational Biology, and Systems Biology.  In years past we were very active in the determination of biomolecular solution structures using multidimensional NMR, including DNA, DNA-drug complexes, proteins and protein-DNA complexes.  We also did a considerable amount of work on antisense biotherapeutics with emphasis on the targeted delivery of dithioate-modified oligonucleotides into specific cell types.  These efforts have been spun off into a commercial venture so that we can now focus our academic interests on Biomedical Informatics and Translational research.

Translational research is a bi-directional process whose goal is to convert basic science discoveries or population studies into measurable improvements in human health.  Biomedical Informatics plays key facilitating roles in this continuum.  For example, a major goal of the CTSA national consortium is to establish and extend Integrated Data Repositories for Biomedical Research to promote sharing of linked patient and research data and to facilitate identification of emergent associations between them.  Data sharing at this scale raises significant issues regarding interoperability, workflow, and usability between collaborating organizations, along with ensuring the privacy and confidentiality of patient data.  Another major goal of our CTSA is to bring systems biology approaches to bear on patient-oriented research for risk stratification and identification of regulatory pathways.  Thus, our goals are to further the transforming contribution of Biomedical Informatics to translational research so as to facilitate the application of knowledge gained in one context to the whole T1-T3 continuum.

Our specific activities in this area are the development of highly sophisticated relational databases with an emphasis on distributed systems with ergonomic web interfaces.  We also have a number of active, funded programs in biomarker discovery, genomics, proteomics and metabolomics.  We are especially focusing on developing both NMR and LC/MS-based metabolomics as an important contributor to the discovery sciences of proteomics and genomics in a systems biology approach.