The Institute for Bioinformatics and Evolutionary Studies (IBEST) is at the heart of a ‘signature research area’ at the University of Idaho: real-time evolution. The institute – oneof only three at the University – was formed on July 1, 2011 following a competitive internalselection process. This prestigious designation is accompanied by significant institutionalsupport in terms of funding, space and personnel that will provide for financial stability and aframework for IBEST longevity and the continued success of IBEST.
The institute was built on a financial foundation provided by Center of Biomedical ResearchExcellence (COBRE) awards from the NIH-IDeA Program. Ongoing COBRE funding will enableus to implement a plan to transition the IBEST Genomics and Computational Resource Coresand administrative support capabilities to a point where they can be sustained by a combinationof grant support and university funds. As a research institute IBEST will receive a portion of theearned overhead from new grants from research related to the theme of ‘real time evolution’ aswell as direct institutional support that will primarily be used to subsidize core facility operationsand for the salaries of administrative staff. This financing will allow us to broaden our scope toinclude research unrelated to human health.
Participants in IBEST are nested within a vibrant community of scientists in which intellectualinteractions and collaborations are many and varied. We encourage and foster interdisciplinarycollaborations that blend the expertise of evolutionary biologists, ecologists, molecular biologists,biochemists, biophysicists, mathematicians, statisticians, and computer scientists to examinethe underpinnings of evolutionary biology. This constitutes an important competitive edge toinvestigators because we can address research questions that are intractable to scientistsfrom a single discipline. It is also an important element in the recruitment and retention offaculty, postdoctoral scientists and graduate students because comparable opportunities forcross-disciplinary training and research do not exist at many other institutions. In this way,IBEST is distinctive insofar as it is not a simple small set of individual investigators that workindependently within a more or less well defined discipline. Instead, a network of collaborationshas emerged that facilitates unselfish sharing of knowledge, expertise, and know how; all ofwhich is made possible because of the collegial research climate within IBEST.