Hutch News Stories

Cell-cycle in yeast, thyroid-cancer genetics emerge as subjects for collaborative, multidisciplinary pilot projects

Dr. Toshi Tsukiyama in his lab
Dr. Toshi Tsukiyama will collaborate on a project on statistical methods for analysis of gene-expression data. Photo by Theresa Naujack

Ten $30,000 grants for pilot projects - ranging from studies on the cell cycle in yeast to genetic studies of thyroid cancer - were awarded to scientists in all four Hutch divisions.

Funds for the one-year grants are provided by $200,000 from the Hutch's core grant from the National Cancer Institute and an additional $100,000 from other Center funds.

"The grants are meant to fund new projects that will have a wide interest and impact to the Hutch," said Dr. Karen Peterson, the Hutch's interdivisional scientific liaison and a member of the pilot grant selection committee.

Although grant proposals were not restricted to particular research areas, special consideration was given to applications that foster new collaborations or are multidisciplinary.

Several collaborative projects that were funded bring together basic researchers using DNA chips, or microarrays, with statisticians who have expertise in analyzing large, complex data sets. Microarrays are designed to analyze the regulation of thousands of genes simultaneously.

One such project teams basic scientist Dr. Toshi Tsukiyama with Drs. Charles Kooperberg and Michael LeBlanc, statisticians in the Public Health Sciences Division.

Tsukiyama, whose lab uses microarrays to monitor global changes in gene expression in yeast, said that in any microarray experiment, expression levels of many genes can change for seemingly trivial reasons.

"We'll be working together with experts in statistics who can help us design ways to eliminate the background noise from our experiments, so that we can identify which changes in gene expression are significant," he said.

Kooperberg, LeBlanc and Tsukiyama also will develop algorithms to aid in the comparison of data sets from different types of experiments.

Besides Peterson, members of the pilot grant selection committee were Drs. Stephanie Green, PHS; Jerry Radich, Clinical Research Division; Mark Roth, Basic Sciences; and Barbara Trask, director of the Human Biology Division.


The 10 projects

The pilot projects, principal investigators and division affiliations:

  • Functional interaction of retinoic acid and estrogen receptors in cultured normal human mammary epithelial cells, Dr. Steve Collins, Human Biology.
  • Statistical methods for the analysis of gene expression data, Drs. Charles Kooperberg, Michael LeBlanc, PHS; and Toshi Tsukiyama, Basic Sciences.
  • A population based screen for genetic variants in the NeuroD2 and myogenic b-HLH proteins using CDCE and a highly efficient pooling strategy, Drs. Stephen Tapscott, Human Biology; Helmut Zarbl, PHS.
  • Lymphocyte mediated immunity against Aspergillus, preliminary studies, Drs. Kieren Marr, Laurence Cooper, Stanley Riddell, Clinical Research.
  • Gene expression in colonic aberrant crypt foci: a pilot study, Drs. Johanna Lampe, Rebecca Rudolph, John Potter, Jeanette Bigler, Ziding Feng, J. Dominitz, PHS.
  • Microarray analysis of the cell cycle regulated transcripts of budding yeast, Dr. Linda Breeden. Basic Sciences.
  • Gene amplification in thyroid cancer, Drs. Paul Neiman, Robert Kimmel, Basic Sciences; Dr. Scott Davis, PHS.
  • Mathematical model for Hsp90 buffering and evolvability, Drs. Suzanne Rutherford, Basic Sciences; Denise Wilson, UW Electrical Engineering.
  • Interleukin-7 (IL7) for T cell reconstitution, Dr. Jan Storek, Clinical Research.
  • Dissecting oncogene regulated transcriptional circuitry using expression profiles, Drs. Lue Ping Zhao, Chun Cheng, PHS; Robert Eisenman, Basic Sciences.

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