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Carnegie Mellon University (CMU; Pittsburgh) reported that it has received a $5 million gift from Ray and Stephanie Lane to establish the Ray and Stephanie Lane Center for Computational Biology.

The gift also will endow a professorship and provide support for doctoral and post-doctoral training in this field. Biological Sciences and Biomedical Engineering Professor Robert Murphy will direct the center and has been appointed the first Ray and Stephanie Lane Professor of Computational Biology, recognizing Murphy’s leadership in computational biology research, education and administration.

“We are extremely pleased that the Lanes have supported these initiatives, which collectively provide critical momentum in our growth as a leader in life sciences research and education,” said Carnegie Mellon President Jared Cohon. “Bob Murphy’s work epitomizes our university’s strength in cultivating scientific achievement at the intersection of disciplines, such as computer science and biology.”

The center will build on the history of computational and interdisciplinary research at Carnegie Mellon and will seek to expand the understanding of biological systems using machine-learning methods. One of the center’s missions will be advancing the development of computational methods to improve cancer detection, diagnosis and treatment, especially by developing tools to enable automated creation of detailed, predictive models of a system’s behavior.

Murphy said that in many cases, pathologists today can’t accurately analyze biopsy slides to locate specific cancer-related proteins with certainty. “This limits their ability to prescribe the most effective treatment.”

Carnegie Mellon is a private research university with programs in engineering, computer science, robotics, business, public policy, fine arts and the humanities.

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