UNO Magazine: Another Silicon Prairie | News

    Imagine a future where you can avoid prescription drugs simply by changing your diet.

    Imagine a future where disease outbreaks can be detected early to avoid major damage to livestock.

    Imagine a future where computers can help us generate enough food to feed the world.

    It is the world of bioinformatics, the combination of health sciences and computer science, and its respective biomedical informatics, using cutting-edge technologies to understand data in biological domains. study, medicine and health care.

    “We use bioinformatics to understand our bodies, the foods we eat, the drugs we take, and the diseases we encounter,” explains Kate Cooper, Ph.D., associate professor of interdisciplinary informatics. “It gives us the opportunity to understand everything from how to fight COVID-19 variants to how we can help keep livestock and crops healthy through times of disease and drought.”

    For decades, UNO has been one of the leading bioinformatics and biomedical informatics organizations in the Midwest. Through statewide partnerships with other universities in the University of Nebraska system, faculty and students at UNO have begun helping the state grow in areas such as telehealth, animal husbandry, and health care. plant resilience.

    Kiran Bastola, a UNO professor with a Ph. in plant biology, there is its own food computer that can closely monitor and adjust various environmental factors to maximize the biological factors of the plant. It not only brings practical benefits to farmers, but also has a “cool” element that is inspiring a new generation of scientists in the future to explore agriculture.

    “Many students may not want to be involved in traditional agriculture, but they may be interested in agriculture with an IT component, such as technology-enabled agriculture,” says Bastola.

    Recent illnesses such as COVID-19 also demonstrate the need to share access to high-tech, high-touch therapies. To meet this need, Ann Fruhling, PhD, professor of interdisciplinary informatics, and Babu Guda, PhD, professor of genetics, cell biology, and anatomy, established the Center for Research and Innovation. The state’s first Biomedical Informatics (CBIRI). .

    Combined with pharmaceutical research, public health practice, medical imaging technology and more, CBIRI is designed to bring people together from “bench to bedside” and provides not only comprehensive health options but also individualized choices.

    “I grew up on a farm and there are some particular challenges that people who make a living in those spaces face,” says Fruhling. “That’s where the hub can really play some role because we’re at the forefront of research that informs providers on how to customize healthcare.”

    She says that CBIRI is designed to serve as a hub not only for researchers like her, but also for service providers, but also service providers and care consumers. health.

    “We aim to build a network with the expertise of different providers in rural communities to help facilitate more information exchange. You can have all the scientific discoveries in the world, but if they don’t affect individuals, we’re not really done.”

    Just as the concepts of bioinformatics and biomedical informatics are just beginning to show their promise, UNO has always been at the forefront of what could happen in the future.

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