ISB News

Cancer Detection requires a cross-disciplinary, systems biology approach.

Cancer Detection: A Systems Biology Approach

By Martin Shelton ISB Editorial Board Member With the exception of cancers of the skin, mouth, and blood, it is difficult to detect cancer by sight or with a routine health screen. The natural variety that exists at the cellular level — even within cells of the same type — challenges our ability to differentiate healthy tissue from diseased. This variety, what biologists call heterogeneity, means that equally healthy cells…

Cancer stratification: Using a systems approach to figure out cancer subtypes.

Cancer Stratification: A Systems Approach

By Theo Knijnenburg ISB Editorial Board Member When a patient receives a diagnosis of breast cancer, it’s a specific subtype of breast cancer, such as invasive ductal carcinoma. Each subtype is characterized by the shape and location of the tumor, its growth progression, prognosis and treatment. The ability to stratify, or group, cancer patients based on the specific characteristics of their cancer type, is the first step toward personalized cancer…

Results of the steady-state Markov model. The state transition and ‘self-renewal’ probabilities required to reach the steady state, shown as heat map

Cancer Treatment: A Systems Approach

By Sui Huang and Joseph Zhou, ISB Editorial Board Members Cancer cells, for decades regarded as a uniform mass of identical (“clonal”) cells, are not like the soldiers of a traditional army, trained to act and respond in unison. Cancer cells, even within a genetic clone, express enormous individuality akin to guerrilla fighters, each with unique strengths, weaknesses and distinct behaviors. Therefore, they do not respond to an attack from…

Now researchers can explore genomic data across space and time

The figure above is part of a four-step procedure for the multiscale segmentation of genomic signals. 3 Bullets: Understanding systems from a multiscale perspective gives us a more detailed and holistic view of how features or functions from each scale connect and interact in a given system. The challenge is integrating the different types of information that come from each scale in an efficient way that yields the most insight….

photo of sofware engineer waving

ISB Retreat 2013: Wellness and Community

“This is the best retreat we’ve ever had – I say that every year. But this was a singular retreat in that it catalyzed an enormously interesting conversation about future opportunities.” – Lee Hood Every September, ISB holds an all-staff overnight retreat to step away from the day-to-day, celebrate the highlights from the past year, ponder the future and, of course, have some fun. We returned to Seabeck Conference Center…

Luxembourg-ISB Partnership: ‘An Unqualified Success’

By Hsiao-Ching Chou LUXEMBOURG JOURNAL, June 12, 2013 – At the 17th-century Neumünster Abbey, the cultural heart of Luxembourg City, a small group of some of the world’s most cutting-edge scientists gathered on June 10-11, 2013, for a symposium to discuss the future of medicine and healthcare. The consensus was clear: Achieving the greatest advances requires “no-box” thinking, cross-disciplinary teamwork and, as ISB president, Dr. Lee Hood, likes to say,…

Combing the Hairball

Traditional node-link diagram of a network of yeast protein-protein and protein-DNA interactions with over 3,000 nodes and 6,800 links. Data from: von Mering et. al. Nature, 417, 399-403, May 2002; Lee et. al. Science, 298: 799-804 (2002) The node-link diagram above is a “hairball” of biological network data. Because it’s such a large network, it’s hard to scan for patterns or interesting interactions worth further investigation. But Bill Longabaugh, a…

It Takes A System To Know A System

Figure depicting cross-disciplinary collaborations among lab groups and usage of technologies housed in ISB’s core facilities. In August, ISB learned that our National Center for Systems Biology was renewed for $13.7 million over the next five years. This is no small feat given that only two National Centers were funded in this round and that there’s fierce competition for diminishing government grants. Here’s how your tax dollars are being put…

ISB’s Role in TCGA

When you see a reference to “cancer research,” you know that it’s important. But do you really know what it means and how complex the research is? Many ISB scientists are entrenched in molecular cancer research. To better appreciate what they’re tackling, let’s talk about The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) project. In understanding cancers, researchers first have to know what errors in the DNA of tumor cells cause them to…

One of ISB’s Superpowers: Mass Spectrometry

Above: Mark Sartain at the quadrupole time of flight mass spectrometer. By Terry Farrah I recently observed ISB at its creative, cross-disciplinary, collaborative best. The story came to my attention during a lab meeting and it involved Dr. Mark Sartain, whose desk is kitty corner to mine. The background: Drs. Elizabeth Gold and Stephen Ramsey, researchers in the laboratory of Dr. Alan Aderem, who co-founded ISB and is now the president of…

Our Genomes, Our Selves

By Lee Rowen In February of 2001 I headed off to Washington DC to participate in an extravagant celebration of scientific achievement. Preliminary drafts of the human genome’s DNA sequence were being published in Nature and Science magazines, and those of us who’d spent years immersed in the Human Genome Project were ready to exult, for one precious weekend, before spending yet more years finishing the sequence to high quality….

I ♥ Proteins

By Terry Farrah Since I first learned about them as a college sophomore, protein molecules have been my scientific passion. I love them for the beauty of their shapes and functions. Protein molecules are central to the workings of life, but in popular culture they are the unsung hero next to their high profile cousin, DNA. Everyone knows that DNA is the blueprint for life. But does one section of…