Professor Sorin Istrail's research focuses on computational molecular biology, medical informatics, statistical physics and complex systems, combinatorial algorithms, and computational complexity. The main projects in his Brown Lab are:
- Genomic Regulatory Networks -- focusing on sea urchin developmental gene regulatory networks, building a high-resolution transcriptome map of the embryo, inferring logic functions of genomic cis-regulatory code and the principles of information processing of genomic regulation
- Computational Models of SNPs and Haplotypes -- dealing with HapMap-based analysis tools design for SNP selection, haplotype phasing, and genome-wide disease associations
- Medical Bioinformatics -- with focus on comparative immunopeptidomics of humans and their pathogens, genetic determinants of sudden cardiac death and human-rabbit comparative genomics, computational support for pathology diagnosis of cancer
- Building a programming language for genomics
- Designing protein folding algorithms
- Continuing John von Neumann's research program towards developing a new computational and information theory for biological systems
- In 2000, he resolved a longstanding open problem in statistical mechanics, the Three-Dimensional Ising Model Problem; his proof showed the "impossibility" (computational intractability) of deriving closed forms explicit partition functions for every three-dimensional Ising model. Recent work of Prof. Istrail's research group at Celera Genomics was devoted to algorithmic design and software development for the following areas: genetics of SNPs and haplotypes, high-throughput EST mapping, genomic vaccine design and comparative peptidomics, compu/combichem and protein structure, BLAST-replacement tools, genomic regulatory systems, literature datamining, DNA array design and expression analysis, and theory of games and pharma economic behavior.
He is Co-Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Computational Biology, Co-Founder of the RECOMB Conference Series, Co-Editor of the MIT Press Computational Molecular Biology Book Series, and Co-Editor of the Springer-Verlag Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics Book Series.