Computational Biology

ORNL's Life Science research covers all aspects of biology from the building blocks of life, DNA, genes and proteins, to the health and fitnss of humans, using a sophisticated mosaic of advanced computing and laboratory research.


Why study Mice?

There is a large degree of similarity in genetic structure between mice and men, making mice a prime platform for research on human diseases. ORNL has developed mouse models of many human diseases:

  • Birth defects
  • Cleft palate
  • Common health disorders
  • Hearing disorders
  • Metabolic problems
  • Neurological defects
  • Reproductive abnormalities
  • Sickle cell anemia
  • Many others . . .
Obesity and adult-onset diabetes

ORNL is home to one of the world's largest experimental mouse colonies. This DOE user facility currently houses more than 70,000 mice representing about 400 mutant strains. A mutant strain is produced by altering or eliminating at least one gene in parent mice through radiation, chemical mutagens, or genetic reengineering.

Accelerating the Genome Revolution: Biology for the 21st Century

  • Retrieving Data and Assembling Genomes
  • Computing and Modeling Genes, RNAs, Proteins, and other Genome Features
  • Computing Homology, Function, and other Relationships
  • Genome-Scale Fold Recognition of Gene Products
  • Modeling Biological Systems
  • Community Data Resource
The insights, the technologies, and the infrastructure that are already emerging from the genome project, together with advances in fields such as computational and structural biology, are among our most important tools in addressing these national needs.

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Aristides A. N. Patrinos
Director, Human Genome Project
U.S. Department of Energy

Genome research is revolutionizing biology and biotechnology, and providing a vital thrust to the increasingly broad scope of the biological sciences. The impact that will be felt in medicine and health care alone, once we identify all human genes, is inestimable.

The ultimate goal is to exploit those resources for a truly profound molecular-level understanding of how we develop from embryo to adult, what makes us work, and what causes things to go wrong. In the offing is a new era of molecular medicine:

  • Rapid and more accurate diagnostic tests
  • insights into genetic susceptibilities to disease and to environmental insults
  • preventive therapies
  • new, highly targeted pharmaceuticals to attack diseases at their molecular foundations.
  • gene therapy to "fix" genetic errors


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