Zhang Lab:

Computational Biology and Bioinformatics

 

 

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Research Interests

The long-term goal of research in our lab is to use mathematical and statistical methods to identify functional elements in eucaryotic genomes, especially the genes and their control and regulatory elements. A genome is the program book of a life, genome research will lead to eventual decoding of the entire genetic language of life and its grammar. Driven by the Human Genome Project, our current interest is on two related problems: genome/chromatin organization and gene regulation networks. At the transcriptional level, identification of cis-elements (both genetic and epigenetic) is the key focus. We are increasingly interested post-transcriptional regulations, especially at splicing regulation and translational regulation. Constitutive coding exons are relatively easy to identify, the greatest challenge lies in the identification of end exons and alternatively spliced exons that are often tissue- and developmental specific. Since this requires the study of many important control and regulatory elements for gene expression, this link between gene structure and function at the genomic or pre-/pri- RNA level requires high-throughput functional studies. Detecting cis regulatory elements and modeling gene expression networks are difficult challenges in the functional genomics era. Working closely with bench-scientists, our investigation will undoubtedly contribute to the understanding of genome organization as well as gene expression and regulation mechanisms, which will in turn have a profound impact on biology and medicine.