The co-principal investigator for Rutgers' National Program of Excellence in Biomedical Computing is Richard H. Ebright, professor of chemistry and chemical biology and Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator at Rutgers' Waksman Institute of Microbiology. Levy and Ebright will work with a multidiscipinary leadership team, initially comprising seven other Rutgers investigators together with collaborators from other institutions. These include: Helen M. Berman, Wilma K. Olson and Emilio Gallicchio (department of chemistry and chemical biology), Tomasz Imielinski (department of computer science), Andrei E. Ruckenstein (department of physics), Konstantin Severinov (department of genetics), Eduardo D. Sontag (department of mathematics), Michael Elowitz and Milton Werner (Rockefeller University, New York), and Boris Shraiman (Bell Laboratories, Murray Hill). The group plans to recruit additional members to the team.
The team will focus its efforts on studying the biology of transcription and the regulation of gene expression.
Transcription is the process through which the communication of genetic information begins. The information coded on the DNA is mapped onto proteins that carry it to other molecules and cells where it may be "expressed." Gene expression underlies important biological processes including development, immune defenses, and tumor formation. Many cancers are known to result from mutations that alter the way genes are expressed. Deciphering the molecular mechanisms that govern gene expression is crucial in the search for solutions to pressing human health problems such as cancer and infectious diseases.