Goal: Biology occurs at multiple scales, from molecules to cells to organisms to environments, which have traditionally been studied separately. Translational biology is now seeking to bring these disparate scales together to achieve a new level of understanding. This understanding requires new algorithm development and analysis tools that can operate on an increasingly large, diverse, complex and widely distributed body of digital biological data. Hence, translational biology is faced with cyberinfrastructure challenges related to data accessibility, software development, software reuse, and sustainability on a scale not seen before. The prior modus operandi of software development – let 1000 independent flowers bloom – will no longer scale in studying translational biology. In short, the current software development and maintenance cycle costs too much, takes too long, operates in too many silos, and is therefore unsustainable and cannot meet the increasing challenges of 21st century biological sciences.
Deliverable: We propose an S2I2 Translational Biology Center that focuses on a better understanding of complex biological structures from molecule to cell. The Protein Data Bank (PDB) can be expected to broaden its focus over the next few years, expanding to contain supramolecular complexes – already happening – and later subcellular and cellular structures derived from a variety of experimental methods. With these raw data at hand, new software tools and analysis protocols will be needed to understand and visualize the emergent 3D virtual cell; tools for structural systems biology.