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Expanded network

CNPq invests R$ 3 million in the implementation of bio-information technology nucleuses

The National Council of Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq) is investing R$ 3 million in perfecting and implementing bio-information technology nucleuses all over the country, with the objective of expanding the infrastructure for research in the programs for the sequencing and analysis of genomes sponsored by the Ministry of Science and Technology (MCT). The CNPq, the MCT and the Financier of Studies and Projects (Finep) have selected 28 bio-information technology laboratories installed in 32 institutions located in the northeast, center-west, southeast and south, involving around 200 researchers. A good number of these laboratories are members of the Brazilian Genome Project and the regional genome projects.

The laboratories will be receiving funds for the purchase of equipment, consumable materials and sundry services, so as to provide support for research into genomics, through the development of software and support programs. “At the moment, the National Laboratory of Scientific Computing (LNCC) does all the Brazilian genome processing. Our intention is to decentralize this processing, giving it out to other laboratories in the country”, says Fábio Paceli Anselmo, a consultant with the CNPq’s Coordenation of Biotechnology.

Besides the support for the genome programs, the expectation is that the bio-information technology laboratories will also develop new research projects. Among the projects selected, ten were proposed by São Paulo research institutes and universities. They include one for genetic annotation and development of drugs, coordinated by Goran Nesic, which has as its partners the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (Embrapa), the Molecular Structure Laboratory of the University of Brasilia (UnB), the National Synchrotron Light Laboratory (LNLS) and the 16 São Paulo laboratories that belong to the Structural Molecular Biology Network (SmolBnet). The project will be able to count on R$ 240,000, in order to, amongst other objectives, install, automate and assess processes for the identification of proteic targets, identified in the sequencing of genomes, for the development and design of drugs.

Another beneficiary of funds from the CNPq will be the project coordinated by Diego Gervasio Frías Suárez, of the Genomic Laboratory of the State University of Santa Cruz, in Ilhéus, Bahia. The laboratory will receive R$ 80,000 to implement the use of artificial intelligence techniques in the identification of genes and sequences that govern Crinipellis perniciosa fungus, the causal agent of the witch’s broom disease in cacao plantations.

Annotation of proteomes
The Bio-Information Technology Research and Development Network of the Center-West, a consortium that has brought together Embrapa, the University of Brasilia and the Catholic University, has its name on the list of approved projects. Under the coordination of Georgio Joannis Pappas Júnior, the group will make use of the R$ 250,000 passed on by the CNPq to create the structure of a database for the storage and manipulation of sequences, set up a platform, via the web, for the validation of sequences, data mining, and integrating tools and systems for the automatic annotation of genomes and proteomes.

CNZ Indústria e Comércio Ltda., a company that was ‘hatched’ from the Center for Incubation of Technological Companies (Cietec) in São Paulo, is the only private laboratory to be awarded funds from the CNPq. The project approved provides for the development of a product with technology capable of bringing about polymerase chain reactions for applications in computational molecular biology and in computational genomics.