ISB News

Genetic Switch May Help Marine Microalgae Respond to Higher CO2 Levels

3 Bullets Rapid climate change, including ocean acidification caused by increasing carbon dioxide (CO2) levels, is predicted to affect the oceans, sea life, and the global carbon cycle. Marine microalgae, including diatoms, are responsible for converting CO2 into oxygen and biologically usable carbon through photosynthesis. How these organisms will respond over the short and long term to rising CO2 is unknown. Growth experiments and transcriptomic analyses performed by UW and…

Monica Orellana Promoted to Principal Scientist

In her 11 years as a senior scientist in the Baliga lab at ISB, Monica has successfully developed a rigorous program on marine and oceanographic systems, and has been a pioneer in transcending traditional disciplinary boundaries and transferring systems methodology developed at ISB to explorecomplex oceanographic problems of global importance. Her highly collaborative and cross-disciplinary work involves laboratory and field studies that integrate physiological, molecular and physical-chemical approaches to understand…

ISB Q&A: On the Systems Biology Summer Course

From our inception, we at ISB have been committed to knowledge transfer. This profound sense of responsibility to share what we learn serves as the foundation for our signature professional course on systems biology. This year’s course, which takes place July 27-31 in ISB’s conference facility, will offer a few new features, including lightning talks about systems biology technologies and a mini symposium consisting of research vignettes from nine ISB…

From left to right: High school teachers Tami Caraballo and Jennifer Duncan-Taylor work with ISB’s Claudia Ludwig, Baliga Lab Education Program Manager, to learn about ocean acidification, cancer cells, and biofuel.

ISB Q&A: High School Science Teachers

From left to right: High school teachers Tami Caraballo and Jennifer Duncan-Taylor work with ISB’s Claudia Ludwig, Baliga Lab Education Program Manager, to learn about ocean acidification, cancer cells, and biofuel. Through the MJ Murdock Charitable Trust’s Partners in Science program, ISB has been able to host two high school science teachers in the Baliga Lab to participate in active research projects. The experience offers teachers valuable insight that textbooks…

The Most Powerful Tool for Reconstructing a Gene Network

Scanning EM of bacteria being eaten by white blood cell Photo Credit: Adrian Ozinsky 3 Bullets: Nearly a decade ago, ISB’s Baliga Lab published a landmark paper describing cMonkey, an innovative method to accurately map gene networks within any organism from microbes to humans. Two new papers describe the benchmark results of cMonkey and also the release of cMonkey2, which performs with higher accuracy. Using this approach, genetic and molecular…

Baliga Lab: A Global Map To Fight Tuberculosis

3 Bullets: The disease progression of tuberculosis is extremely complex and it’s poorly understood. ISB and Seattle BioMed researchers have made an important step by developing a comprehensive map of gene regulation in tuberculosis. A resulting open-access web portal offers any scientist the ability to mine the collected data. By ISBUSA Tuberculosis (TB) remains a top global health threat due to its remarkable complexity in disease progression. To help understand…

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, center, chats with two of his staff members, left, and, at right, Dr. Nitin Baliga and Dr. Dana Riley Black, both of Institute for Systems Biology, Institute for Systems Biology/March 16, 2015

Gov. Inslee Hosts Round Table With College Students at ISB

Gov. Jay Inslee hosted a round table discussion today at Institute for Systems Biology with a group of invited college students, who were asked to share their thoughts on the affordability of education. We were honored to be able to provide the venue. ISB has had a long history of supporting systemic change at the K-12 school district level to improve the quality and access of STEM education. Now, our…

Baliga Lab: ‘The Universe Under a Microscope’

This is an excerpt from Environmental Microbiology Reports, 2015, authored by Arjun Raman, a postdoc in the Baliga Lab here at Institute for Systems Biology. The beauty of a living thing is not the atoms that go into it, but the way those atoms are put together. Information distilled over four billion years of biological evolution. Incidentally, all the organisms on the Earth are made essentially of that stuff. An…

Alex Kuo, ISB high school intern 2014

ISB Q&A: High School Intern Alex Kuo

Alex Kuo was a high school intern during summer 2014. She reflected on her ISB experience: Q: What were your first impressions of ISB? Alex: ISB is a pivotal force in Seattle’s scientific community, especially when it comes to collaboration across multiple disciplines. Given the magnitude and complexities of the research that’s done at ISB, it would seem unlikely that a high school student would be able to participate in…

Tuberculosis Research: A ‘Molecular Road Map’ to Help Understand Gene Regulation

The journal “Trends in Microbiology” recently published a spotlight article on a tuberculosis research collaboration between scientists at Institute for Systems Biology and Seattle BioMed. The paper “The DNA-binding network of Mycobacterium tuberculosis” was published in the journal “Nature Communications” (Jan. 12, 2015): “MTB employs about 200 different molecular switches to sense and respond to the shifting, hostile landscape of the host. To identify and understand the intertwining gene regulatory…

ISB’s Women in Oceanography

Photos above: (Left) Anne Thompson and (right) Mόnica Orellana as featured in “Women in Oceanography: A Decade Later.” BY ISBUSA Two of ISB’s senior research scientists are featured in the second edition of “Women in Oceanography.” Dr. Mόnica Orellana and Dr. Anne Thompson, both of the Baliga Lab, share their stories about what inspired their careers in oceanography and some of their thoughts about working in the field. The inaugural issue…

Pushing the Molecular Switches of Tuberculosis Into Overdrive to Map Interactions

3 Bullets: Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB) infects more than 1.5 billion people worldwide partly due to its ability to sense and adapt to the broad range of hostile environments that exist within hosts. To study how MTB controls its responses at a molecular level, ISB researchers and their collaborators at Seattle Biomed perturbed almost all MTB transcription factor regulators and identified the affected genes. This comprehensive map of molecular switches in…

How One Family of Microbial Genes Rewires Itself for New Niches

3 Bullets: When an organism duplicates its genes, it increases its ability to adapt and colonize new environments. ISB researchers used the systems approach to study how one family of microbial genes evolved to bring functions that were adaptive to specific environments. This new understanding of how gene regulatory networks rewire themselves has many potential applications, including how to wire new functions into an organism for biofuel production, bio-remediation or…

How Physics and Thermodynamics Help Assess DNA Defects in Cancer

3 Bullets: ‘Big data’ cancer research has revealed a new spectrum of genetic mutations across tumors that need understanding. Existing methods for analyzing DNA defects in cancer are blind to how those mutations actually behave. ISB scientists developed a new approach using physics- and structure-based modeling to systematically assess the spectrum of mutations that arise in several gene regulatory proteins in cancer. By Jake Valenzuela and Justin Ashworth A significant…

New Tool Uses 3-D Protein-DNA Structures to Predict Locations of Genetic ‘On-Off’ Switches

3 Bullets: Novel systems approach uses high-resolution structures of protein-DNA complexes to predict where transcription factors (genetic switches) bind and regulate the genome. This approach can help researchers better understand and predict binding sites for non-model organisms or ‘exotic’ species. Having such insight and predictive capabilities is critical for reverse- and forward-engineering organisms that could be pivotal for new green biotechnologies. By Jake Valenzuela and Justin Ashworth Researchers at the…

Baliga Lab: Uncovering the Genetic Adaptability of Tuberculosis

3 Bullets: The Institute for Systems Biology and Seattle BioMed have collaborated to reconstruct the gene regulatory network of the human pathogen Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Finely tuned gene regulation has allowed Mycobacterium tuberculosis to survive unnoticed in an apparently healthy host for decades; understanding those subtleties is critical for advancing treatment. The identification of co-regulated sets of genes and their regulatory influences offers validated predictions that will help guide future research…

Decoding the Microbial Gene-Recycling Program: Researchers 'Unzip' Genetic Instruction Manuals

New Open-Access Multiscale Model Captures Dynamic Molecular Processes in Unprecedented Detail

3 Bullets: Microbes are efficient because their streamlined genomes allow them to evolve and adapt rapidly to complex environmental changes. Decoding the highly-compressed information within a microbial genome requires sophisticated systems biology tools to map the genetic programs, and understand how they are executed. ISB researchers invented novel algorithms to unzip and decode microbial genomes into the EGRIN 2.0, an open-access multiscale model that captures instructions for executing the dynamic…

Now Accepting ISB Internship Applications

ISB’s summer internships for high school and undergraduate students are highly competitive — who wouldn’t want to work leading experts in systems biology research? The application process is now open. If you or someone you know may be interested in applying, visit the following links: High School Internships Undergraduate Internships