The Human Genome Project has produced a database of human genes and other DNA sequences that is so vast and complex that it cannot be interpreted without the aid of computational techniques. At CHIP, we are involved in many collaborative and independent research projects that are mining medically useful information from this database, analyzing it and interpreting it. Currently, our bioinformatics and functional genomics group--the largest in Boston and among the first to enter the field--is working on over a dozen NIH-funded investigations of gene activity in diseases ranging from diabetes to heart failure to children's brain cancer. (To read more about this work, visit the Bioinformatics and Macrobiology pages of the CHIP website.)
A major challenge in our biomedical studies -- and those of other groups -- is gathering human tissue samples in sufficient quantities for statistical analysis. Thus, we seek to promote collaboration across institutions and give individual researchers access to more samples than they would be able to collect on their own.
We have done this in several ways. We have developed the Shared Pathology Informatics Network (SPIN), funded by the National Cancer Institute. A second initiative, called i2b2 (Informatics for Integrating Biology with the Beside), is developing new ways to take more extensive advantage of the large amounts of clinical data that already exist (and often go unused) and combining it with newly-acquired genomic data to facilitate the process of biomedical discovery. This is particularly useful in diseases which have different underlying genetic causes in different patients and require more individualized treatments.
In addition, CHIP is part of the team leading The Gene Partnership, a transformative initiative that promises to unravel the root causes of complex conditions by analyzing genetic data, clinical and environmental factors.
CHIP is also affiliated with the Center for Biomedical Informatics (CBMI) at Harvard Medical School.