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Pathway Semantics: An Algebraic Data Driven Algorithm to Generate Hypotheses about Molecular Patterns Underlying Disease Progression

Author: Mary F. McGuire, BS, MS(2011)

Primary Advisor: M. Sriram Iyengar, PhD

Committee Members: Jack W. Smith, MD, PhD; Robert E. Brown, MD; David W. Mercer, MD, FACS

PhD Thesis, The University of Texas School of Biomedical Informatics at Houston.


The overarching goal of the Pathway Semantics Algorithm (PSA) is to improve the in silico identification of clinically useful hypotheses about molecular patterns in disease progression. By framing biomedical questions within a variety of matrix representations, PSA has the flexibility to analyze combined quantitative and qualitative data over a wide range of stratifications. The resulting hypothetical answers can then move to in vitro and in vivo verification, research assay optimization, clinical validation, and commercialization. Herein PSA is shown to generate novel hypotheses about the significant biological pathways in two disease domains: shock / trauma and hemophilia A, and validated experimentally in the latter. The PSA matrix algebra approach identified differential molecular patterns in biological networks over time and outcome that would not be easily found through direct assays, literature or database searches. In this dissertation, Chapter 1 provides a broad overview of the background and motivation for the study, followed by Chapter 2 with a literature review of relevant computational methods. Chapters 3 and 4 describe PSA for node and edge analysis respectively, and apply the method to disease progression in shock / trauma. Chapter 5 demonstrates the application of PSA to hemophilia A and the validation with experimental results. The work is summarized in Chapter 6, followed by extensive references and an Appendix with additional material.