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White leaves Yale to direct new Chicago institute

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The newly formed Institute for Genomic and Systems Biology, a joint effort between the University of Chicago and Argonne National Laboratory, opened its doors this summer with its new director, Kevin White from Yale, at the helm.

White, whose own lab focuses on transcriptional regulatory networks, will oversee the institute as it focuses efforts in two areas: disease modeling and biofuel development. “As a scientist, I’m really excited about working with the broad expertise that will be in the institute,” he says. Recruitment will be a high priority for the institute; White says the University of Chicago will have resources to recruit about 10 faculty members, while Argonne may be looking for five or six new staff scientists. The institute will also draw on existing faculty and staff from the institutions, and those who wish to remain with their previous affiliation will be considered fellows of the new institute.

White says he’s “exhilarated” about the opportunity to head up and be part of the center. “One of the key issues is to actually get the computational and the wet lab people mixed, both physically and intellectually,” he says. To that end, the institute’s space will be designed to encourage interaction, and there will also be plenty of interdisciplinary events as well, such as seminar series and journal clubs.

Most of White’s Yale lab will move to the new institute and continue research into regulatory networks. “We’ve been studying how the networks controlled by nuclear hormone receptors mediate their tissue-specific effects. That’s led us into some disease-related research as well,” White says. Studies on the evolutionary aspects of these networks are another component of his lab’s efforts. White says the lab will keep using Drosophila as model, but his group will also be ramping up its work in cancer.

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