Navigation Links
Keck award enables Carnegie Mellon and Stanford to dramatically expand crowdsourced RNA design

PITTSBURGHResearchers at Carnegie Mellon University and Stanford University are expanding EteRNA a unique research project that taps online game play to create RNA designs that are then tested in a laboratory thanks to new support from the W.M. Keck Foundation.

Among the additions already implemented is a new puzzle in which players design RNA switches RNA molecules that change shape in the presence of other molecules.

A $1 million grant through the Keck Foundation's Medical Research Program will provide ongoing support for the year-old EteRNA project, which has already engaged more than 30,000 citizen-scientists in the study of RNA design. Researchers say the online game has identified a number of people, some without formal science training, who display a strong aptitude for RNA design and are generating important scientific insights.

Biologists believe RNA molecules may be a key regulator of living cells. But they have struggled to understand the complex principles that dictate the three-dimensional shape of RNA, which is critical to deciphering the molecules' functions and to designing new RNA devices.

"EteRNA was designed to test the interplay between high-throughput experimental science and crowdsourcing," said Adrien Treuille, an assistant professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon who leads the project with Rhiju Das, an assistant professor of biochemistry at Stanford, and Jeehyung Lee, a Carnegie Mellon Ph.D. student in computer science. "What we've seen emerge from a group of talented players is a dedicated community of researchers who have out-performed the best existing computer models for RNA design."

EteRNA was the first online game to harness wet-lab experimentation to the wisdom of crowds. Players are given design challenges and then use the latest computer modeling programs to create possible solutions. Players vote on the best of their virtual designs, which are then synthesized in the Das lab and evaluated to see if they work in real life.

The Keck Foundation support will help the researchers leverage advances in biotechnology that, Das said, "are leading to a radical re-imagining of the game." Until now, only about 32 of the designs could be evaluated in the lab each month. But Keck Foundation support, as well as rapid advances in the technology for synthesizing molecules, should now make it possible to synthesize thousands each month. Players can still respond to weekly challenges, but the expanded capability to synthesize molecules also will enable them to pursue and test their own design hypotheses, much as an academic researcher might.

"You couldn't have done this a year ago," Das said. "It's an exciting time."

Players have responded enthusiastically to the new puzzles implemented this month that challenge them to design shape-shifting RNAs that sense other molecules. These designs could lead to RNA molecules that have a number of applications as sensors for RNAs such as those expressed by viruses or cancer cells, as logic gates in RNA-based computer circuits, and as switches for rapidly turning genes on and off as scientists explore functions in model cells.

Das said the project also is creating a pipeline that will help non-expert players turn their own discoveries into published research papers, rewarding them with recognition of their work.

As part of the Keck initiative, EteRNA is creating an advisory board of noted scientists, including Paul Berg, a Stanford biochemist and Nobel laureate in chemistry; Dr. Patrick O. Brown, also a Stanford biochemist; and David Baker, a biochemist at the University of Washington, to provide guidance as EteRNA explores this new way of conducting scientific research.


Contact: Byron Spice
Carnegie Mellon University

Related biology news :

1. NIH doles out $3M in new innovator awards to 2 UC San Diego faculty
2. Wistar Institute researcher receives New Innovator award from NIH
3. Stevens awarded $1M for advanced biofuels research
4. NIH awards Clemson bioengineer $1.5 million to improve durability of tissue heart valves
5. L-1 Identity Solutions Awarded New Massachusetts RMV Drivers License Contract Valued at an Estimated $32 Million
6. Entomological Society of America names 2008 award winners
7. 8 National Medals of Science awardees to be honored at gala, then the White House
8. BIO-keys(R) Law Enforcement Group Awarded $700,000 in New Contracts
9. Broad Institute awarded major grant to bolster epigenomics research
10. Entertainment Software Association Foundation awards grant to FAS for immune attack
11. Audience Selected as Silver Winner in This Years Wall Street Journal Technology Innovation Awards and Winner of the Semiconductors Category
Post Your Comments:
(Date:10/27/2015)... Munich, Germany , ... (ASGM) automatically maps data from mobile eye tracking videos ... so that they can be quantitatively analyzed with SMI,s ... Germany , October 28-29, 2015. SMI,s Automated Semantic ... eye tracking videos created with SMI,s Eye Tracking ...
(Date:10/26/2015)... and LAS VEGAS , Oct. 26, ... , an innovator in modern authentication and a founding ... the launch of its latest version of the Nok ... organizations to use standards-based authentication that supports existing and ... Authentication Suite is ideal for organizations deploying customer-facing applications ...
(Date:10/23/2015)... California , October 23, 2015 ... (SMI) announce a mobile plug and play integration of ... real-world tasks SensoMotoric Instruments (SMI) present ... wearable solutions for eye tracking and physiological data registration. ... SMI Eye Tracking Glasses 2w and physiological ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/24/2015)... IN (PRWEB) , ... November 24, 2015 , ... The ... newest Special Interest Group (SIG), MultiGP, also known as Multirotor Grand Prix, to represent ... the last few years. Many AMA members have embraced this type of racing and ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... TEL AVIV, Israel , Nov. 24, 2015  Tikcro Technologies Ltd. ... be held on December 29, 2015 at 11:00 a.m. Israel ... & Co., Electra Tower, 98 Yigal Allon Street, 36 th Floor, ... , election of Eric Paneth and Izhak Tamir ... and Rami Skaliter as external directors; , approval of an ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... Urdorf, Switzerland (PRWEB) , ... November 24, 2015 ... ... the plant and the environment are paramount. Insertion points for in-line sensors can ... TOLEDO has developed the InTrac 781/784 series of retractable sensor housings , ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... 24, 2015 /CNW Telbec/ - ProMetic Life Sciences Inc. (TSX: ... Mr. Pierre Laurin , President and Chief Executive Officer ... upcoming Piper Jaffray 27 th Annual Healthcare Conference to ... 1-2, 2015. st , at 8.50am (ET) ... throughout the day. The presentation will be available live via ...
Breaking Biology Technology: