Collaborations and interactions established by the Center. Research (blue), core use (red) and technology development (green). Note the ICM and Nucleic Acids Cores have been combined and refocused into the Single Cell Core.

Center research projects address what we consider to be a fundamental challenge of systems biology – specifically: How do cells transition from state A to state B?

We have chosen three projects to address three aspects of this key question:

  1. How are environmental signals processed through molecular networks to transition cells between states (e.g., yeast responding to oleic acid induced peroxisome biogenesis)?  Project 1.
  2. How do cells establish and maintain spatiotemporal patterns of cell state transitions to form multicellular structures (e.g., yeast colony formation)?  Project 2.
  3. Are there defined quantized intermediate states during mammalian cell-type differentiation (e.g. during iPS cell differentiation to cardiomyocytes)?  If so, do these quantized states functionally interact in ways that are essential to proper differentiation?  Project 3.

The research projects have been designed to complement each other in interrogating network dynamics across multiple levels of biological organization and to encompass multi-scale analysis of subcellular control mechanisms, and analysis of cell populations and physical cell assemblies.  We have selected model systems that will maximize advances in analyzing the basic principles of cellular organization at various hierarchical levels, including the interactions among cells.

Answers to these questions will enable us to explain, predict and control cell state transitions.  Such capabilities hold promise for ultimately understanding, and even reversing, transitions from health to disease.