Skip to main content
Premium Trial:

Request an Annual Quote

Look Who’s Blazing the Systems Biology Trail

Premium

by Adrienne J. Burke

 

Only a futurist would venture to forecast what genomics technologies of the next century will look like. But where they’ll come from is now readily apparent: the biological methods and tools of the future will be the brainchildren of interdisciplinary teams of scientists who collaborated in glistening, hundred-million-dollar, ultrahigh-tech havens constructed in the early 2000s.

With sights set on provoking the next wave of bio developments, schools including Cornell, Duke, MIT, Princeton, Stanford, the University of California, and the University of Michigan have undertaken bold initiatives to foster cross-fertilization among faculty and students of diverse disciplines. With state-of-the-art labs and mod monikers such as Bio-X and QB3, the programs will push scientists to seek interdepartmental solutions to biological questions raised by, among other things, genome data.

Genome Technology identified the seven programs profiled on the next pages as the academic pioneers of interdisciplinary biology. And their directors — scientists who’ve had illustrious careers in biology, computational genomics, engineering, genetics, and medicine — are systems biology’s new vanguard.

They’re attempting to break down bureaucratic, cultural, and physical barriers to teamwork. MIT has opted to run its Computational and Systems Biology Initiative as a virtual institute. Co-chair Peter Sorger says not only did MIT not need another building, but it’s risky to move researchers together expecting them to collaborate before their science is even underway.

But the other six universities combined will spend $1 billion on new construction to house hubs for these newfangled teams. The result will be a national fleet of monumental research facilities, designed to be flexible and fluid to accommodate new types of interactions and scientific styles that are expected to emerge. Russ Altman, an accomplished medical informaticist in Stanford’s Bio-X program, says he “can’t even imagine” how exposure to other disciplines will influence his work. “Five to 10 years from now my lab will be very different,” he says.

To be sure, the new approach has yet to be tested. Three of the six facilities are mere construction projects. The others have just cut ribbons. Faculty at the University of Michigan’s Life Sciences Institute will get their keys September 15, Princeton is still recruiting faculty, and researchers will be relocating into Stanford’s facility throughout the fall.

As David Botstein, director of Princeton’s fledgling Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics, notes, “We’re in very early days. What we have here is high concept.” But if concepts become reality, the training, research, and technologies that flow from these centers will instruct the future of the field that’s becoming commonly known as systems biology.

Convergence

Precedents for merging academic domains exist already at each of these schools. Michigan’s Institute for Social Research began 50 years ago blending psychology with political science, economics, anthropology, and public health. At MIT, engineering and computer science have long mingled with chemistry and biology. Duke has had a life sciences building for 25 years integrating arts and sciences studies with engineering, environmental science, and medicine.

But no interdisciplinary effort has been quite so ambitious as systems biology seeks to be. New initiatives aim to tap every area that can help interpret biological systems: not just the obvious computational and chemical genomics groups, but aeronautics and astronautics, ecology, electrical engineering, environmental health, mechanical engineering, medicine, math, nuclear engineering, and physics. More expansive programs hope to pair biologists with experts in anesthesiology, dentistry, kinesiology, pharmacology, or robotics. Acknowledging the future social consequences of this work, some will also expose scientists to students of business, law, public policy, and religion. Duke’s Institute for Genome Sciences and Policy will encompass every school on campus.

Numerous other institutions are following similar paths. Janelia Farm in Loudoun County, Virginia, under the direction of geneticist Gerry Rubin, is being conceived as an interdisciplinary biomedical research mecca for HHMI investigators to open in 2006. Harvard’s cell biology department is rumored to be stirring up a systems biology effort there. And, of course, Lee Hood began it all when he opened his independent Institute for Systems Biology in Seattle three years ago with an immunologist, a cellular biologist, and a computational astrophysicist.

It’s not simply convergent evolution that drives so many institutions to drum up multimillion-dollar initiatives at the same time. “All of this isn’t happening because somebody said, ‘Let’s have a party,’” says Marvin Cassman, former NIGMS director and head of QB3, the quantitative biology program spanning the University of California’s San Francisco, Berkeley, and Santa Cruz campuses. “It’s evident to lots of people that this kind of integration is necessary for the next developments in biology. We have a strong interest in … looking at the integration of all of the kinds of data that are needed to understand how systems behave in biological networks. That includes bionanotechnology through probes, imaging through spacial resolution, tools for measuring temporal events, and computation,” Cassman says.

“The internal logic of the science — that we can’t go forward simply as biologists — is overwhelming to those people who sit at the frontier,” says Princeton’s Botstein. “There’s a barrier — you’ve got to get past it — and that barrier is the ability to deal with the whole genome at once. Everyone has encountered that and they’ve all recognized that we need a solution.”

Long before its current Life Sciences Initiative kicked off, Cornell’s chemistry department changed its name to chemistry and chemical biology, and chemical engineering became chemical and biomolecular engineering. “Biology is just becoming part and parcel of all these other disciplines,” says Cornell’s Vice Provost for Life Sciences Kraig Adler. “Not to have strength in life sciences means you’re undercutting all those other areas.” Creating the Life Sciences Initiative was something Cornell could not afford not to do, he says. The university is slated to spend $600 million in state and gift money on the LSI over the next five to seven years.

That alumni dollars, government funds, and philanthropic gifts continue to pour in during a depressed economy to support the erection of facilities such as Stanford’s $146 million glass and steel research palace, the James H. Clark Center, with its Brazilian cherrywood banisters and skylit underground auditorium, is evidence of the urgency with which schools are seeking to get this work underway.

Spontaneity Encouraged

Russ Altman is ecstatic on his July 14 move-in day to the Clark Center, which will be home to 40 out of 260 Stanford Bio-X faculty. Sitting in his empty office, he ticks off a list of his new neighbors: computer engineer Jean-Claude LaTombe, comparative genomicist Serafin Batzoglou, geometric computation expert Leonidas Guibas, structural biologist Michael Levitt, and chemical biologist Vijay Pande. “This is a dream hallway for biocomputation!” Altman exclaims.

And dream hallways of bioengineers, biophysicists, and biochemists of various persuasions, who, like Altman, will remain employed by the academic departments they came from, will soon be only a balcony’s walk away.

Though Altman’s work is already interdisciplinary — he’s an MD/PhD with associate professor appointments in genetics, medicine, and computer science — what excites him about BioX, he says, is how exposure to scientists studying areas he’s unfamiliar with, such as gait simulation, blood flow modeling, neural prosthetics, and surgical robotics — all areas that will have labs at Clark — might influence his own work.

Even more than for the state-of-the-art instruments and labs they will house, facilities such as the Clark Center have been designed to put people together. Bio-X director Matthew Scott says there will be a small imaging facility, a biofilm center, and some other key technological resources. “But the building is not heavy in this stuff. We decided not to create a building that is technology-centered. We decided to create a building that is people-centered. The more important thing is to bring the people together,” Scott says.

Gerry Rubin at HHMI’s Janelia Farm says, “There’s a widespread feeling out there that quantitative biology is going to require more help from more quantitative disciplines and that the normal structure of universities doesn’t really foster this kind of interdisciplinary work.” Scientists need opportunities for physical proximity, unintended collisions, and spontaneous interactions with each other, he says.

Toward that end, Bio-X faculty and students will be tempted to mingle, steps away from their labs, around an outdoor performance stage, at a 24-hour Peet’s coffee shop, or in a full-service cafeteria with “three or four food concepts delivered on three platforms including Asian food, American cuisine, and a live wok,” explains one scientist who was amused that the dining manager not only delivered a Power Point presentation, but spoke to scientists in their own vernacular.

Lunch Infrastructure

Silly as it sounds, dining halls are no joke when it comes to fostering collaboration. Rubin, who is modeling Janelia Farm on two of the world’s most successful research environments, notes that the cafeterias at Bell Labs and the MRC laboratory of molecular biology were important features. “If I were back at Berkeley and I went to visit Bob Tjian and someone told me he was at lunch, I would have no idea where to find him,” says Rubin. “At Janelia Farm I’ll know where to find him. The physical environment that encourages interaction is important.”

Of course, getting biochemists and astrophysicts to collaborate will take more than cafeteria chatter. Alan Saltiel, who managed the department of cell biology at Parke-Davis before taking the directorship of Michigan’s Life Sciences Institute, says bridging different disciplines will be no small challenge. “In the pharmaceutical industry there’s a big cultural gap between biology, pharmacology, molecular biology, and medicinal chemistry. They have different ideas about ways to analyze data and how much risk you can assume and what’s precise and what’s not.” The university setting is further hindered by departmental cultural differences, he says. “Medical school and undergrad faculty have different ideas of what it is to be a faculty member, different approaches to entrepreneurial science, different approaches to teaching, and different comfort with uncertainty. We’re really striving to build a third culture that encompasses the best parts and leaves behind the baggage.”

Saltiel says Michigan designed plenty of common spaces into its $100 million, 250,000-square-foot institute and intentionally mixed scientific disciplines together on the same floors.

Asked if this rubbing-elbows approach isn’t a bit touchy-feely for science, QB3’s Cassman cites an example from his own grad school days. “We were in an old building where all the equipment was out in the hall. Anytime you were standing out there taking radioactivity measurements or screening something, you’d talk to whoever was nearby. People kept bumping into you asking what you were doing.” Later, his lab moved to a new building with lots of space and separate little enclaves “where you never ran into anyone else.” Cassman says QB3 will replicate the benefits of doing science in a cramped space without the shortcomings.

To make up for its lack of a hub facility, MIT’s CSBi program — interestingly, the only one of the seven that will create a new systems biology PhD program — is sponsoring retreats, mixers, a barbecue, and poster exhibits to bring scientists together. In addition, co-chair Peter Sorger says space has been carved out of existing core labs and resources to form the CSBi technology platform. It offers all CSBi participants use of a new biology area in the semiconductor manufacturing facility as well as access to a biofabrication core that Sorger runs and facilities for mass spectrometry, microarrays, RNAi, transgenics, x-ray crystallography and NMR, and imaging. In addition, MIT dedicated a 22-terabyte computer grid running a 180-processor Beowulf and a 64-procesor IBM specialized RISC system to CSBi.

Sorger says he questions the wisdom of hauling people out of the department or environment that’s nurturing their work to force interactions with other disciplines. “It’s easy to take a bunch of biologists and re-sort them, but why would you want to take someone who’s an expert in microsystems or Bayesian network theory out of their own environment where they’re surrounded by other experts and stick them in a biology group?” he asks. “Very soon they wouldn’t be very good anymore at their basic discipline.”

Sorger also suggests that an approach such as Bio-X’s that plucks individual researchers from departments across campus and puts them into gorgeous new labs can cause problems. “You’ve done something exclusive. You’ve said, ‘Ah, you are the chosen one,’” Sorger says. “You don’t move people more than a couple times in their career, and what happens if three or four years from now someone else would have been a better choice?” But, he adds, “It could be that in five or 10 years, CSBi will have a core 20 people that are so active that it’s entirely appropriate to pull them into one physically contiguous structure.”

Cooperate locally, compete globally

Cassman argues, however, that it’s necessary to put the cart before the horse in these situations. Among other things, “new facilities create space and opportunity for new recruitment,” he notes.

Indeed, while cooperation is the name of the game inside these institutes, competition on the outside, to recruit faculty and students, will be intense. Until they produce a decade’s worth of graduates, finding enough experts to staff their labs and classrooms will be no small feat.

QB3 has 11 new positions to fill on the UCSF campus alone. “In particular, we are recruiting in computational areas, and they are hard to come by, so there’s a lot of competition,” Cassman says. While Bio-X will be staffed mostly by existing Stanford faculty, Princeton, Duke, and Cornell’s programs will all make new hires.

Cornell, which has been taking an interdepartmental approach to recruiting and hiring since 1988, has a $600 million budget to staff up LSI. Adler ran three full-page ads for LSI positions in Science last fall and has been hiring LSI-participating faculty at the rate of 10 per year. The school is aggressive, snatching up superstar researchers as they become available, Adler says, in some cases replacing older faculty before they step down. “We don’t want to wait for incumbents to retire, because you never know when the right person is going to come along.”

What may be the most immediate threat to any of these programs will come when Janelia Farm turns on its charm and starts cherry picking. Being outside the constraints of academia, Janelia promises to be something of a systems biology research utopia. The keys to nurturing prize-winning science, Rubin says, are conditions that academic facilities simply can’t provide.

For instance, at Janelia, PIs will work in tiny teams — just three or four staff per lab as opposed to the typical 12 or 15 — so there’s actually time to interface with people in other fields. Researchers there won’t be required to teach, accept speaking engagements, or even publish papers, and they’ll be rewarded for risk-taking, collegiality, and contributing to other labs. Work will be funded completely by HHMI, so no one will be beholden to the government or an industrial partner. And, Rubin says, the support infrastructure will be strong: “Scientists will never need to worry about washing their own glass wear.”

To furnish the facility completely by 2010, HHMI will create 25 more of its prestigious investigator appointments and start recruiting next year.

For physicists, engineers, computer scientists, and other academics with a bio bent, the systems biology field is awash with opportunity. Aspiring students or faculty deciding where to send their applications have more than fancy facilities to consider. While Rubin offers full-time opportunities to do science at Janelia, Princeton’s Botstein emphasizes teaching and a bigger focus on undergraduates than other programs. MIT offers the chance to blend science with business by folding the Sloan School of Management into its program. Cornell has an agriculture angle, and Duke exposes genomics scientists to scholars in its divinity, law, and public policy schools. Big biology just keeps getting bigger.

 

Stanford’s Bio-X Program for Bioengineering, Biomedicine, and Biosciences

Leadership: Chairman: Matthew Scott, HHMI investigator, professor of developmental biology and genetics. Director of Bio-X Operations: Beth Kane

Participating faculty: 260 participating faculty, 40 located in James H. Clark Center

Star faculty: Russ Altman, medical informatics; Ron Davis, biochemistry; Vijay Pande, chemistry; Jean-Claude Latombe, computer science

Departments: 27 departments from Stanford schools of engineering, medicine, humanities and sciences, and earth sciences

Alliances: None established yet

Facility: Completed: $146.6 million for 146,000 net square feet

Architect: MBT Architecture, San Francisco; Foster & Partners, London

Interdisciplinary features: Open-air balconies; open, flexible lab space; large restaurant, Peet’s coffeeshop and study area open 24 hours; situated at the intersection of medicine, engineering and humanities & sciences

Endowment: $90 million from Clark, $60 million from an anonymous donor

Operating budget: N/A

Technology: Moving 1,600 major pieces of equipment from labs on campus, SGI Origin supercomputer and 128-processor Dell Linux cluster

Students: Facility can accommodate 700 faculty, students, visiting researchers, and staff

Degree? No, students in facility earn degrees from affiliated departments

 

CSBi: MIT’s Computational and Systems Biology Initiative

Leadership: Executive Director: Brigitta Tadmor, formerly MIT’s Senior Industrial Liaison Officer; Co-chairs: Peter Sorger, director MIT’s BioMicro Center, associate professor, biology and biological engineering; and Bruce Tidor, associate professor of bioengineering and computer science

Participating faculty: Approximately 45

Star faculty: David Gifford, gene networks; Doug Lauffenberger, bioengineering; Harvey Lodish, signal transduction; Amy Keating, protein-protein interaction; Leona Samson, toxicology

Departments: Biology, brain and cognitive sciences, chemistry, math, physics, biological engineering, electrical engineering & computer science, chemical engineering and other engineering disciplines, as well as Sloan School of Management, and the Whitehead Institute

Alliances: Aggressive effort to establish industry partnerships

Facility: None

Interdisciplinary features: Retreats, seminars, and conferences; interdiscipinary teaching

Endowment: Fundraising efforts, which started six months ago, ongoing; so far $18 million, five-year grant from NIH for systems biology, $6 million DARPA grant for biology, informatics, and microfabrication study, and $6-7 million from private foundations and individuals

Operating budget: $6-10 million per year

Technology: CSBi technology platform gives all participants access to new biology areas in semiconductor manufacturing facility, mass spec facility, microarray facility, RNAi facility, transgenic facility, BioMicro Center, x-ray crystallogrpahy and NMR, imaging facility and 22-terabyte computer grid running 180-processor Beowulf and 64-procesor IBM specialized RISC system, as well as a link to Harvard’s Institute of Chemistry and Cell Biology

Students: Six to 10 PhDs to be admitted 2004

Degree? Yes, PhD will be offered in computational and systems biology

 

Princeton’s Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics

Leadership: Director: David Botstein, former chair of genetics department at Stanford School of Medicine, seminal figure in development of microarrays and Human Genome Project

Participating faculty: Room for up to 15 in building

Selected faculty: William Bialek, theoretical biophysicist; John Hopfield, computational neurobiologist; Mona Singh, machine learning, protein-protein interaction prediction; David Tank, optical fluorescence, neural circuit dynamics expert; Saeed Tavazoie, computational genomics

Departments: Physics, molecular biology, computer science, chemistry, ecology and evolutionary biology, and math as well as the school of engineering and possibly the school of public policy

Alliances: Planned

Facility: $40 million Carl C. Icahn Laboratory, 90,000 square feet with 30,000 square feet of lab space

Architect: Rafael Viñoly, New York; The Hillier Group, Princeton

Interdisciplinary features: Facility designed to enable view of all lab entryways; laboratories constructed with modular wall system to enable rapid renovations and reconfigurations; large atrium serves as building’s living room

Endowment: Money donated by Carl Icahn for laboratory, and by Peter Lewis in honor of Paul Sigler to fund the institute

Operating budget: To be determined

Technology: In discussion, but plan to operate on Unix open-source platform

Students: Plan to admit first 10 to 20 students in fall 2004

Degree? Students will graduate from existing departments with certificate in genomics

 

Duke’s Institute for Genome Sciences and Policy

Leadership: Director: Hunt Willard, former president of research institute of University Hospitals of Cleveland, former genetics department chair and director of Center for Human Genetics at Case Western Reserve

Participating faculty: Several hundred participate; 75 get direct resources, recruiting an additional 25

Star faculty: Joe Nevins, co-director of Computational and Applied Genomics Program, geneticist and molecular biologist; Mike West, CAGP co-director, Bayesian statistician, former chair of Duke statistics department; Margaret Pericak-Vance, director, Center for Human Genetics, studying single-gene disorders and complex common diseases; Robert Cook-Deegan, director, Center for Genome Ethics, Law, and Policy

Departments: Encompasses all schools including divinity, law, public policy, and business. Institute comprises five centers for: human genetics, models of human disease, genome technology, bioinformatics and computational biology, and genome ethics law and policy

Alliances: GSK research collaboration, Affymetrix GeneChip deal, and genomic-prospective medicine collaboration with Craig Venter’s TCAG

Facility: All IGSP centers to be housed in three-building complex comprised of the completed $41 million, 120,000-square-foot Genome Sciences Research Building 1 and $33 million, 122,000-square-foot GSRB 2 as well as a $97 million, 322,000-square-foot Center for Interdisciplinary Engineering, Medicine, and Applied Science, of which IGSP will occupy about one-eighth, to be completed in one year.

Architect: Lord Aeck Sargent Architecture, Atlanta, and Zimmer Gunsul Frasca Partnership, Washington

Interdisciplinary features: Main institute facility physically bridges medical school and rest of campus; two wings of medical/engineering building joined by open-air walkways; computational and applied genomics group holds weekly all-day interdepartmental retreats; video conferencing capabilities

Endowment: $250 million committed by university

Operating budget: Multi-year budget of $250 million

Technology: Microarray core facility; “substantial” genome sequencing infrastructure; state-of-the-art mouse lab; genomics research laboratory core with DNA banking, high-throughput genotyping, and mutation analysis equipment, Sun Microsystems SunFire 6800 with 24 750-MHz processors in Center for Human Genetics

Students: Currently 50 in genetics and genomics PhD program, six in bioinformatics and genome technology, 10 in biotechnology program

Degree? No, but PhD programs in bioinformatics, genome technology, genetics and genomics, molecular biotechnology are associated with institute, and undergrad programs under development. Business school offers master’s in health sector management with emphasis on genome and the economy.

 

University of Michigan’s Life Sciences Institute

Leadership: Director: Alan Saltiel, professor of medicine and physiology and former senior director of the department of cell biology at Parke-Davis

Star faculty: David Ginsberg, expert on using knockouts to study genetics and molecular biology of blood clotting, professor of medicine, of genetics and internal medicine, HHMI investigator; Zhaohui Xu, protein folding expert, assistant research investigator, assistant professor, biological chemistry

Participating faculty: 20 to 30 to be housed in Life Sciences Institute

Departments: School for literature, sciences and the arts; medical school, engineering, pharmacy, public health, nursing, dentistry, kinesiology, business school

Alliances: Planned

Facility: Opening September 15: $100 million, 230,000-square-foot Life Sciences Institute, will be part of new, four-building life sciences complex stil under construction to include $61 million, 140,000-square-foot Undergraduate Science Building; $250 million, 470,000-square-foot Biomedical Science Research Building; and $32 million, 99,000-square-foot Life Sciences Commons

Architect: Venturi Scott Brown & Smith, Philadelphia; Smith Group, Detroit

Interdisciplinary features: LSI will contain collaborative meeting spaces and offices for visiting faculty and post-doctoral fellows

Endowment: $130 million for staff, equipment, and operations

Operating budget: $10-11 million per year

Technology: Plans for “catalytic centers” of technology in structural biology, robotics, chemigenomics. computing decision being made currently

Students: 20 to 30 percent of people working in the building will be students

Degree? No, students earn degrees from affiliated departments

 

QB3: California Institute for Quantitative Biomedical Research
Universities of California at San Francisco, Santa Cruz, and Berkeley

Leadership: Executive Director: Marvin Cassman, former director of NIH’s NIGMS; UCSF QB3 Director: David Agard, professor of biochemistry and biophysics; UC Berkeley QB3 Director: Graham Fleming, professor of chemistry and director of LBNL’s physical biosciences division; UCSC QB3 Director: David Haussler, HHMI investigator, computer science professor, director of UCSC Center for Biomolecular Science and Engineering

Participating faculty: 100-some faculty over three schools, 30 to be located in UCSF QB3 headquarters building

Star faculty: Steven Brenner, structural genomics; Joe DeRisi, UCSF genomics and proteomics core lab, microarrays; Michael Eisen, computational genomics; Jim Kent, computational biology; Gene Myers, computational biology; Andrej Sali, computational structural biology; Kimmen Sjölander, phylogenomics

Departments: Investigators in bioengineering, biotechnology, bioinformatics, computational biology, structural biology, chemical biology, genomics, proteomics, and biochemistry

Alliances: GE deal for 7-tesla magnet and $1.7 million in cash to Sarah Nelson; IBM Shared University Research award to Andrej Sali; Intel deal with David Haussler; QB3 is founding member SRI PharmaSTART consortium

Facility: Under construction: $100 million for facility at UCSF Mission Bay, 94,144 net square feet; $162.3 million for UC Berkeley Stanley Biosciences and Bioengineering Building, 285,000 gross square feet; also making improvements to UCSC building

Architect: Zimmer Gunsul Frasca Partnership, Portland, Ore.

Interdisciplinary features: Multipoint video conferencing capabilities among three campuses; lounge and meeting spaces connecting labs

Endowment: $100 million in state funds provided over four years starting in 2000. Additional private funds collected through campus foundations.

Operating budget: Five percent of state funds ($4.625 million) dedicated to non-building purposes over four years

Technology: UCSF: 7-tesla MRI; high speed, large-capacity microarrayer for nucleic acid and protein arrays; genomics and proteomics core lab. Berkeley: 900 Mhz NMR; LBNL provides access to HTP sequencing facility and synchrotron; computing. UCSF Resource for Biocomputing, Visualization, and Informatics and UCSC-based supercomputing cluster maintained by Haussler’s group

Students: Students will not be specifically tied to the program but QB3 will support students through fellowships and other awards. QB3 is involved with several graduate programs across the three campuses.

Degree? No

 

Cornell Life Sciences Initiative

Leadership: Vice Provost for Life Sciences: Kraig Adler, biology professor

Participating faculty: About 200

Star faculty: Michael Shuler, director, cross-campus biomedical engineering program; Steven Tanksley, chair of Cornell Genomics Initiative, professor of plant breeding; Susan McCouch, plant genomics and computational & statistical genomics expert; Kelvin Lee, director, Cornell Proteomics Program

Departments: Eight colleges, 40 departments participate

Facility: $140 million, 250,000-square-foot building under design now, to be completed 2007

Architect: Richard Meier and Partners, New York

Interdisciplinary features: Business incubator, remote conferencing facilities, affiliation with Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City as well as “tri-institutional research program” with Rockefeller, Memorial Sloan-Kettering

Endowment: Plans call for investing $600 million in state and gift funds in next five to seven years

Operating budget: Spent $100 million on hiring, building, and fellowships since 1998

Technology: Access to Cornell’s national centers for nanotechnology and materials science, Boyce Thompson Institute Center for Gene Expression Profiling, Center for Genomic Technologies and Information Sciences, Biotechnology Resource Center including two MALDI TOFs and five HTP sequencing instruments

Students: “Huge number of students” to be engaged with initiative in some way, including many of Cornell’s 2,000 biology majors

Degree? No, graduate degrees will continue to be awarded from the field of graduate study, with intellectual activity supervised by graduate school

The Scan

Push Toward Approval

The Wall Street Journal reports the US Food and Drug Administration is under pressure to grant full approval to SARS-CoV-2 vaccines.

Deer Exposure

About 40 percent of deer in a handful of US states carry antibodies to SARS-CoV-2, according to Nature News.

Millions But Not Enough

NPR reports the US is set to send 110 million SARS-CoV-2 vaccine doses abroad, but that billions are needed.

PNAS Papers on CRISPR-Edited Cancer Models, Multiple Sclerosis Neuroinflammation, Parasitic Wasps

In PNAS this week: gene-editing approach for developing cancer models, role of extracellular proteins in multiple sclerosis, and more.