Announcement - January 2002

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To: Mathematical Sciences Community

Date: January 2002


The Joint Policy Board for Mathematics announces that this year's Mathematics Awareness Month focuses on the contributions of mathematics to the understanding of our own genome.

With the completion near of the sequencing of the human genome, the catalog of all our genes and whatever else is in our chromosomes, scientists and indeed all of us have the sense that we are coming into possession of the key to enormous insights into many fundamental medical and biological problems. Unfortunately, even as we are inundated with waves of new data from these projects, the problem of interpreting and using this new store of data has arisen as a fundamental challenge to the way biomedical science will be carried out in the future. Mathematics has contributed centrally to the taming and understanding of this data to date and will play an ever larger role in its analysis in the future.

As data collection for the genome sequencing problems became automated, large, fast, efficient computer algorithms were utilized to reconstruct the genome from the fragments which experimenters could sequence, and to help locate where genes were in this avalanche of sequence data. The static map of the genome is almost in hand, and we move on to the study of the dynamic system of proteins and RNA's produced from the genome, and how that profoundly complex system is regulated. Both dynamical system methods from machine learning and statistics are being used to figure out how the control system of the genome has been "engineered." Challenging issues in statistics are being dealt with in order to design experiments to optimize the information extracted from such experiments. These techniques are already being used to discern molecular "signatures" of tumor types, to be used in the prescription of cancer therapy regimens by clinicians. Microarray technologies allow thousands of potential gene products to be measured simultaneously, affording a snapshot of the genome's dynamics. Computational models of large biomolecules are now central to drug discovery in the pharmaceutical industry.

The Mathematics Awareness Month poster emphasizes the mathematical aspects of genome science today. This year's Mathematics Awareness Month program will provide resources to scientists, educators, and policy makers for exploring the role of the mathematical sciences in understanding the human genome and its role in medicine and biology.

Browse this website to download the electronic version of the poster, order more copies of the printed poster, read the theme essay, learn about related resources, copy a sample press release, get ideas on how to promote awareness of Mathematics Awareness Month, and contact the Advisory Committee and link to professional mathematical associations.

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