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Research Specs

Submitted by admin on Wed, 01/20/2010 - 13:39.
Research Area: BioInformatics

Bioinformatics research is currently evolving in several interesting directions and involves at least three different groups outside of the ADSA participants per se. Two of these groups are located in Calgary in the Faculty of Medicine and the third is located at St. Boniface Research Center in Winnipeg. The groups in Calgary include:
  1. The Southern Alberta Cancer Research Centre in affiliation with the Tom Baker Cancer Center are investigating a wide range of factors that effect the development and treatment of various forms of cancer. Our group has developed an epimilogical database for them capable of tracking various risk factors and environmental features that might be instrumental in the prevention and treatment of related illnesses. The database is now fully developed and contains a very wide gamut of data that must now be analyzed in the hope of gaining a better understanding of disease processes. The project is now moving into the second phase where the collected data will be analyzed in the hope of discovering interesting trends that have not yet been identified using traditional techniques. At the momemt, we are employing biostatistics to initiate the process but other techniques from the data mining community are being investigated including association rules, classification techniques, simulated annealing, genetic algorithms among other techniques. We anticipate that this kind of analysis will lead to novel ways to think about cancer treatment.
  2. The second project being undetaken is with Dr. Christoph Sensen of the Faculty of Medicine. His primary research is in the area of protein visualization and genomics. Although the work to date with his group has been only exploratory in nature, several students with core interests in bioinformatics now work jointly between the ADSA and Dr. Sensen's laboratory. The work currently being undertaken utilizes a Visualization Cave with a substantial amount of computing power. This project is extremely challenging and requires the storage and efficient retrieval and analysis of huge volumns of data. As the project proceed over the next year, updates will appear in this section so stay tuned.
  3. In conjunction with the St. Boniface Research Centre at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, we are developing a system capable of delivering medical image date without using traditional technologies such as film. This project is a high demand health-care delivery project that must make image data readily available to both the radiologist and the physician. The project involves multiple data sources distributed at various hospitals around the province and ideally should provide secure access to the physician at their office. This is a particularly challenging porject that incorporate many of the research interests of the ADSA including distributed database systems, tele-health, data warehousing,security, and system integration. Current work is aimed at designing the overall architecture, developing a suitable software engineering paradigm for developing such a system, and deploying an initial version as a "proof of concept".

Work in this area continues to evolve and it should be clear that most of these projects tend to be interdisciplinary in nature. The focus of our lab is on aspects related to Computer Science so a degree in Computer Science or closely related field is required to join our group. Students interested in working in this area must be aware that there is a substantial learning curve associated with working in any multi-disciploinary field. If you are interested in this area, we encourage you to look at the project pages of the various students working in the ADSA as they will provide some insight into the kind of we work we are undertaking.

If you interested in this aspect of our work and believe you are qualified to join our group, we encourage you to fill in our pre-application form. This can be reached off the main Departmental Web Page ( and following the link to "Graduate Studies". Please be sure to indicate at least one of Drs. Barker or Alhajj as a potential supervisor and provide a focused statement of research interest.