How do we gain a comprehensive and dynamic understanding of the inner workings of a cell? How do we go beyond descriptive characterizations of individual molecular components and achieve a predictive understanding of biological behavior in terms of how these components come together, interact, and orchestrate adaptive processes? Are there universal organizing principles that underlie function and evolution in the underlying networks?
It is becoming increasingly clear that this ‘systems’ level understanding requires a revolutionary change in how we think about and conduct biology—both in terms of making the appropriate observations, but also in the conceptual frameworks required to turn these observations into a new type of knowledge. From this perspective, the goal of our research is to understand the organizing principles behind the function and evolution of biological networks. At one scale, we use large-scale global observations to reveal the ‘nuts and bolts’ of these networks and to understand how they come together to orchestrate biological behavior. At the other extreme, we aim to achieve a holistic understanding of function by considering the native ecological context in which these networks have evolved. At the highest level, we aim to understand how these networks embody an internal representation of the world outside. We have focused on these problems in the context of transcriptional regulatory and genetic networks of organisms ranging from bacteria to human.
In addition to using traditional experimental methods, we develop and employ new technologies for making genome-wide observations together with computational and analytic tools required to turn these observations into predictive models of the underlying biology.
Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics
Initiative in Systems Biology