Historically, biology, and neuroscience in particular, have been primarily descriptive sciences. The computational approaches adhered to in the Center for Computational Biology (CCB) accelerate the trend towards more quantitative science and help achieve an integrated understanding of anatomy, physiology, and genetics.
The CCB employs an integrative approach, both in terms of the biology and the participating disciplines. The Center focuses on the brain, specifically on neuroimaging, and involves research in mathematics, computational methods, and informatics. It is also involved in the development of a new form of software infrastructure – the computational atlas – to manage multidimensional data spanning many scales and modalities. This will be specifically applied to the study of brain structure and function in health and disease, but will have much broader applicability to both biomedical computing and computational biology.
The modeling of biological processes presents unique challenges and opportunities. By building upon our work in computational biology, existing and forthcoming educational programs, and technological and administrative infrastructure, CCB is creating a comprehensive and integrated strategy to address these challenges.
We develop shape representation techniques using variational frameworks. This allows us to establish diffeomorphic maps of “meaningful” correspondences between shapes that preserve the local geometry of singularities, such as region boundaries. Our defeomorphic shape representation is based on a kernel descriptor that characterizes local shape and allows enforcing shape information locally in determining such region boundaries. The shape descriptors we utilize are robust to noise and form a scale-space where appropriate scales exemplify size-dependent features of interest.
The Center has been divided into three cores. Core 1 is focused on mathematical and computational research. Core 2 is involved in the development of tools to be used by Core 3. Core 3 is composed of the driving biological projects: Mapping Genomic Function, Mapping Biological Structure, and Mapping Brain Phenotype.
Cores 4 – 7 provide the infrastructure for joint structure within the Center as well as the development of new approaches and procedures to augment the research and development of Cores 1-3.
These cores are: (4) Infrastructure & Resources, (5) Education & Training, (6) Dissemination, and (7) Administration & Management.
Our history and established interactions among various academic departments, institutes, divisions, and laboratories ensures success for the Center.
This work was funded by the National Institutes of Health through the NIH Roadmap for Medical Research, Grant U54 RR021813. Information on the National Centers for Biomedical Computing can be obtained from http://nihroadmap.nih.gov/bioinformatics.