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Two UC Institutions Win $30.8 M from NIGMS for New National Centers for Systems Biology

By a GenomeWeb staff reporter

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) — Two institutions associated with the University of California will be awarded $15.4 million each over five years by the National Institutes of Health toward establishing new National Centers for Systems Biology.

The UCSF Center for Systems and Synthetic Biology, to be based at the University of California, San Francisco, will build on research by its leader, Wendell Lim, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator and UCSF professor of cellular and molecular pharmacology, and his colleagues.

Lim’s group will integrate engineering, genomics, proteomics, systems biology, and synthetic biology approaches to identify principles and features involved in common cellular behaviors and will examine these circuits across different species, UCSF said in a statement. That research, according to UCSF, will assist the center in engineering synthetic circuits that can trigger desired cellular responses to external cues.

In addition, the funding will enable UCSF to start a systems biology fellowship program aimed at attracting younger scientists with backgrounds in engineering, math, and information technology, among areas outside UCSF’s traditionally strong biological sciences program. The initiative is part of a broader effort at UCSF’s medicine and pharmacy schools, and the UC Institute for Quantitative Biosciences, or QB3, which is headquartered at UCSF.

Researchers at the UCSF center will collaborate with colleagues at the second institution awarded funding by NIH, the San Diego Center for Systems Biology of Cellular Stress Responses. The San Diego center will be based at UC San Diego and be led by Alexander Hoffmann, principal investigator with the UCSD Signaling Systems Laboratory.

The San Diego center will investigate how cells respond to stress, including pathogens, toxins, and metabolic imbalances. Hoffmann’s team will use genomics, proteomics, and synthetic biology techniques to understand the signaling pathways involved in normal stress responses and how these responses protect cells.

NIH’s National Institute of General Medical Sciences provided funding awarded to both new systems biology centers, which join 10 others established in previous years.

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