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Chancellor’s Professor of Computer Science Pierre Baldi has received a $980,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to develop tools that will lead to insights into circadian oscillations and their role in health and disease. He is the Principal Investigator on the grant, “Bioinformatics Tools for Circadian Biology,” which runs through April 2020.

Circadian rhythms coordinate many important biological functions, from the sleep-wake cycle to metabolic activities and cognitive functions. They are also fundamental to health and medicine. Disruptions of circadian rhythms have been linked to health problems ranging from depression to cardiovascular disease, and research suggests that understanding circadian oscillations at the molecular level could impact precision medicine — for example, possibly optimizing when to take a certain drug.

Baldi, who is also the director of the Institute for Genomics and Bioinformatics (IGB), will be working closely with biologists to develop informatics tools to collect, integrate and analyze molecular circadian data. Capturing this wealth of information could lead to novel insights about the organization and regulation of circadian oscillations, their role in health and disease, and their future application to precision medicine. All data, software, and results will be freely available for academic research purposes and broadly disseminated through multiple channels to benefit both the circadian community and the broader bioinformatics community.

— Shani Murray