Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Post Type Selectors

Category: News

Listing of news from the Institute of Bioinformatics at University of Georgia

Kannan receives $2M NIH MIRA award

University of Georgia faculty member Natarajan Kannan

(Photo by Dorothy Kozlowski)


University of Georgia faculty member Natarajan Kannan is a recipient of a highly prestigious Maximizing Investigator Research Award, or MIRA, from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences. The MIRA award is intended to provide investigators with greater stability and flexibility in funding to enhance scientific productivity and make important scientific breakthroughs. The program funds research by the nation’s most highly talented and promising investigators.

Kannan, professor of biochemistry and molecular biology in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences and the Institute of Bioinformatics, will use the $2 million award over a period of five years to map the complex relationships connecting sequence and function in biomedically important gene families such as protein kinases.

A large family of enzymes, protein kinases function as molecular switches in most living organisms by turning “on” and “off” cellular signals at the right place and time. Abnormal functioning of these proteins in our cells is causally associated with diseases such as cancer, diabetes and neurological disorders. This project will answer fundamental questions related to protein kinase functions in disease and normal states and develop new tools to predict disease phenotypes from genotypes. In so doing the project will accelerate the targeting of these proteins for drug discovery and personalized medicine. The MIRA award also provides the flexibility to extend the specialized tools and approaches developed for the study of kinases to other gene families such as glycosyltransferases, which is a major area of focus in the Complex Carbohydrate Research Center at UGA.

Predicting disease phenotypes from genotypes is a grand challenge in biology and personalized medicine. Kannan’s evolutionary systems biology group is focused on addressing this challenge using a combination of computational and experimental approaches that incorporate techniques from diverse disciplines including biochemistry, bioinformatics, cell biology and computer science.

“Professor Kannan’s work is so impactful because he is not afraid to tackle the big questions. Furthermore, he freely shares his unique expertise in collaborations that help make for new discoveries in other labs as well,” said Christopher West, professor and head of the department of biochemistry and molecular biology. “He previously received a National Science Foundation CAREER award and the UGA Creative Research Medal in Natural Sciences and Engineering, and the NIH MIRA award is a further tribute to his outstanding contributions. We are lucky to have Professor Kannan as part of our scientific community.”

We have made important contributions towards uncovering the functional impact of natural and disease variants in biomedically important gene families, and our success is attributable to the interdisciplinary team of highly motivated and talented students, fellows and research scientists working towards a common research goal,” said Kannan. “We are also fortunate to be part of a strong network of national and international collaborators and a highly collaborative research environment at UGA.”



Glenn named new Institute of Bioinformatics Director

Travis Glenn, professor of environmental health science in the College of Public Health, has been appointed the new director of the university’s Institute of Bioinformatics. Taking over Jan. 1, Glenn said he is honored to step into this new role and eager to see what lies ahead for IOB in the coming months.

“The future of bioinformatics and computational biology is strong at UGA,” Glenn said. “There is an ever-growing need for faculty and students to be able to manipulate and analyze large datasets.”

Glenn, whose research areas include comparative and environmental genomics, molecular ecology, infectious disease and vectors, has already established a set of goals for the institute.

“First, I would like to expand partnerships across UGA, including the Georgia Informatics Institute, Health Informatics Institute and other interdisciplinary programs,” Glenn said. “Second, we need to enhance training and outreach at UGA via workshops, short and modularized courses, training cohorts, and undergraduate and graduate programs. Finally, I would love to expand research productivity by facilitating partnerships, training, shared resources and recruitment of qualified students and faculty.”

Established in 2002, IOB emerged from a recognition that all life sciences and biotechnology investigators were analyzing vast quantities of data. It has facilitated cutting-edge interdisciplinary research in bioinformatics and computational biology and their applications. The importance of a program like IOB is not lost on Glenn.

“The IOB fosters a community at UGA for all who use computational tools to solve biological problems,” he said. “We advocate for shared resources and interdisciplinary research, teaching and programs. We facilitate coordination and coherence to create a whole that is greater than the sum of the individual parts. I am honored to have the opportunity to work with and for the bioinformatics community at UGA.”

“Advancing technologies in ‘omics’ fields and other areas have produced a deluge of biological data, making the field of bioinformatics indispensable,” said David Lee, vice president for research. “Thanks to the vision of its previous leaders, Ying Xu and Jessie Kissinger, the Institute of Bioinformatics is facilitating studies from plants to animals, including humans, and providing the next generation of life scientists with the necessary skills. I am confident that Travis will continue in their footsteps and provide outstanding leadership for the IOB, a point of pride for UGA, for many years to come.”

Online Seminar by IOB PhD Student David Montgomery | Friday AUG 14th starting at 1:30PM



David Montgomery

Graduate Student, Institute of Bioinformatics

Woods Research Lab

Complex Carbohydrate Research Center




IOB graduate student, David Montgomery, will give a online seminar on:

 Title: “Finally, a New Approach to Annotating and Finding Carbohydrates in the PDB “

Date: Friday, August 14th, 2020 at 1:30pm

To register please follow the link below:

Webinar @ the Society for Glycobiology 


Date: AUG 14th, 2020

Time: starting at 1:30PM

IOB Academic News & Events | week of APR 3rd, 2020

To download a PDF of this news letter click HERE

Research News:

David Montgomery: COVID-19 collaboration submitted to PLOS Pathogens. The title is: “Glycosaminoglycan binding motif at S1/S2 proteolytic cleavage site on spike glycoprotein may facilitate novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) host cell entry”.  


Dr. Justin Bahl interviewed on COVID-19:

New York Times



On-line Seminar:

Dr. Alexander Bucksch (is the tenth presenter in the IPPN online webinar.

Title: Computers, Roots & Big Data from the Field: Can new methods identify uncharacterized phenomena in existing data?

To join this webinar on the 10th of April 2020, go on time to Join Zoom Meeting   Meeting ID: 734 731 883

Dial by your location – Meeting ID: 734 731 883.  Find your local number:

Dr. Justin Bahl interviewed on NPR to discuss mutational patterns of COVID-19