Ram Samudrala, 31
Wrote algorithms that can predict the functions of proteins from the sequence of a genome
University of Washington
Since before University of Washington assistant professor Ram Samudrala was born, scientists have been striving to predict from an organism’s DNA sequence the identities and workings of its many proteins. Such an understanding could lead to improved treatments for diseases, which are often caused by malfunctioning proteins. Samudrala has advanced protein encoded by an organism’s genome. By modeling changes to specific genes or proteins, researchers can try to determine what causes proteins to go awry. One set of algorithms Samudrala devised, with $4 million from federal and private agencies, is called Bioverse. Samudrala has used Bioverse to model the functions and interactions of the proteins of more than 30 organisms; other researchers are using Bioverse to find which proteins in pathogens would be good targets for new drugs. Posted on the Web, Bioverse receives 1,000 hits daily. Samudrala made the algorithms free because he is opposed to intellectual-property restrictions, as explained in his “Free Music Philosophy” statement, which he published on the Web in 1994- long before the rise of Napster.