Systems B Biology and Medicine

       This Area is a newly established research field after a recent reorganization at the University. The main focus is to apply “systems” approach, combining multiple disciplines, from genomics to informatics to biophysics, to address fundamental questions in biology and medicine. In addition, the Area is also responsible to initiate an innovative instrumentation center, named Bio-ID Center, to develop cutting edge technologies in imaging, nanotechnology and precision analysis. The close interaction between methodology development and basic research is a unique characteristic of this Area.

       Currently, the Area has 11 full time faculty members, with 1 chair professor (Z. Shao) and 2 full professors (X.D. Zhao, D.M. Czajkowsky) as well as 2 associate professors (X.W. Li, Y. Guo). There are also adjunct members from other institutions to conduct joint research in several areas. The Area currently has 11 master's students and 12 PhD students participating in various research projects. The primary research of the Area includes: (1) using integrated functional genomics to delineate the core control networks of phenotype maintenance and disease initiation with a special emphasis on the early stages of gastric cancer; (2) developing innovative imaging modalities to analyze higher order structures of the chromosome as well as large scale structure of tissues with an interest in the innovation of tumor tissues; (3) characterizing self-assembling and functional nano-structures from organic macrocycles and Fc fusion proteins with the former focused on biomimetic transport and the latter on drug development; (4) developing cutting edge probe imaging methods and analysis methods to achieve high resolution single molecule structural elucidation and high sensitivity methods to probe physical properties of cells for the purpose of clinical diagnosis. In the past 5 years, the members of the Area have published more than 20 primary and review papers in prestigious journals and received 20 research grants from national and municipal funding agencies. To date, 15 patents have been filed by the faculty members with 4 already granted by Chinese Patent Office.

       In the past five years, the members of the Area have made many interesting and important discoveries. One example is the discovery of the unexpected transcriptome complexity in budding yeast using a novel technique based on high throughput sequencing of paired end ditags developed by Professor Zhao and colleagues. Another is the innovation to use laser capture microdissection on high water content tissues, such as embryos. In terms of self-assembling nanostructures, Professor Shao and colleagues, in collaboration with Professor B. Gong at SUNY-Buffalo, have been using an array of biophysical techniques to demonstrate the amazing properties of sub-nm nanotubes. These small tubes can conduct water and select ions, mimicking some of the biological channels. Cryogenic force imaging is another unique area. Single macromolecules or cells are imaged at liquid nitrogen temperature to obtain high resolution. Combining this unique ability and molecular dynamics simulations, Professor Czajkowsky and colleagues have published a series of papers on the construction and functionalization of oligo Fc fusion proteins with explicit purpose of developing effective drugs. With Dr. Li as the lead investigator, Nikon Corporation has recently signed an agreement with Bio-ID Center to jointly develop super resolution methodologies for cell biology.