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Rollin Richmond, Provost, (515) 294-9591
Susan Carpenter, Veterinary Microbiology, (515) 294-5158
Phyllis Peters, Veterinary Medicine Communications, (515) 294-4602
Teddi Barron, News Service, (515) 294-4778


AMES, Iowa --- Iowa State University has received a four-year, $1.6 million grant from the United States Department of Agriculture for graduate training in computational biology for animal agriculture. The grant will support graduate students as they combine basic training in animal biology with analytical studies in mathematics, statistics and other computational fields.

The USDA grant was secured by a training group comprised of 30 Iowa State faculty from four colleges. Susan Carpenter, professor of veterinary microbiology and a co-director for the training grant, explained that the training program will integrate state-of-the-art computational approaches to analyze biological data from three critical areas of animal agriculture: animal and microbial genomics; growth and development of healthy animals; and infectious diseases.

The Multi-disciplinary Graduate Education Training (MGET) will prepare future scientists with skills to manage emerging areas of animal agriculture. Recent advances in genome sequencing and molecular genetics enable scientists to explore complex biological problems using an integrated approach that includes mathematics or computational biology.

"Iowa State has made a strong commitment to bioinformatics and computational biology," said Iowa State provost Rollin Richmond. "This graduate training program builds on those initiatives and affirms that our faculty are recognized for their high-impact role in preparing future scientists for new challenges and opportunities in animal agriculture."

Christopher Tuggle, co-program director and professor of animal science, indicated that students with advanced training in computational biology are in high demand in today's job market. Biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies and academic institutions seek highly trained scientists who can decipher the vast amounts of data generated from genome sequencing projects.

Graduate students participating in the MGET program will study with faculty with expertise in computer science, mathematics, statistics, animal genetics and biotechnology, cell and developmental biology, and infectious diseases. An internship program established through Iowa State's partnership with nearby USDA laboratories, as well as private industries and overseas universities, will provide students with both academic and real world experiences.


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