Researching Genetics and the Environment

USM Associate Professor of Computer Science Clare Bates Congdon is part of a team of scientists throughout northern New England that is researching how genetics and the environment work together to trigger and prevent disease.

The team, led by Dartmouth College Medical School, received an $11 million grant from the National Institutes of Health. Other collaborators include the University of Maine, the University of New Hampshire, the University of Vermont, Harvard University's National Center for Biomedical Computing, as well as the Jackson Laboratory, Mount Desert Island Biological Lab and Maine Medical Center.

Her work focuses on development of powerful computational approaches to identify non-coding DNA regions that alter genetic mechanisms. The research could help lead to new knowledge about the mechanisms of genomics and the evolution of viruses.

She also is the recipient of a National Science Foundation (NSF) $400,000, five-year CAREER grant. The NSF describes the grants as its “…most prestigious awards in support of junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research within the context of the mission of their organizations.”

During the past several years, Professor Congdon has mentored USM computer sciences students who have developed artificial intelligence programs that have twice won competitions at the World Congress of Computational Intelligence.