Systems biology seeks to understand relationships between the design of biological systems and the complex tasks they have been molded, by natural selection, to perform. In biological systems, events happen not only in time, but also in the realm of space: Cells and organisms recognize spatial information (e.g. chemotactic gradients, visual patterns), generate spatial information (body patterns, tissue architectures), and may even use spatial information as a computational tool. The focus of the proposed center is on how spatial information is handled by biological systems, and how it ultimately is used to create biological form (morphogenesis). The center will support a program of interdisciplinary research, technology development, training, and outreach aimed at furthering the development of the spatial side of systems biology. The research projects are organized into three themes, focusing on pattern formation during development, the control of proliferative dynamics in epithelia, and spatial aspects of the regulation of intracellular signaling. Projects within these themes will take advantage of a variety of approaches (genetics, biochemistry, biophysics, mathematical modeling, computation) and experimental organisms (yeast, flies, zebrafish, frogs, and mice). Technology development will focus on mathematical/computational tools and optical biology tools that address some of the unique challenges associated with measuring and modeling spatially dynamic systems. Training will include programs at the undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate levels for educating the next generation of systems biologists. The goals of the program will be met through the collaborative efforts of twenty faculty at U.C. Irvine, representing a mix of biologists, mathematicians, physicists, engineers and computer scientists. Among other things, the efforts of the center are expected to identify common principles in how different kinds of biological systems manage the spatial world. Such insights will have a broad impact on a variety of health-related areas including human development and birth defects, stem cells and regeneration, normal and tumor cell growth, and basic physiology.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS)
Specialized Center (P50)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZGM1-CBCB-2 (SB))
Program Officer
Lyster, Peter
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University of California Irvine
Anatomy/Cell Biology
Schools of Arts and Sciences
United States
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