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Biomedical research is undergoing a revolution, rapidly changing from the current model of an individual research group tackling one discrete problem, to one in which large-scale, interdisciplinary collaborations use advanced computational strategies to analyze complex systems and massive datasets produced by genomics and proteomics. New computational technologies and data storage devices now permit scientists to approach problems that previously were nearly incomprehensible, such as identifying the complex patterns and pathways involved in tumor progression and resistance to therapy. Moreover, computational sciences are essential for biomedical researchers to exploit the full potential of genomics and proteomics to: characterize other diseases, understand complex biological regulatory systems, and solve complex molecular structures.
The Wistar Institute has considerable strength in genomics, proteomics, computational biology, structural biology, cancer models, and translational research. As a result, systems biology is playing an important and increasing role in the Institute's intra-programmatic collaborations. Working across multiple disciplines, our scientists are fulfilling the power of integrating research in disparate fields toward the common goal of understanding the mechanisms of cancer and other diseases. Wistar scientists from all three of our research programs work on projects that align with the National Cancer Institute's (NCI) vision of systems biology, including studies of gene expression, gene control systems, and molecular machines (Gene Expression and Regulation Program); signaling pathways, the cell cycle and programmed cell death, and the tumor microenvironment (Molecular and Cellular Oncogenesis Program); and immune response to cancer (Immunology Program).
The Center for Systems and Computational Biology, which is an interdisciplinary unit, bridges Cancer Center programs, provides space and resources to encourage scientific interactions, and allows for more efficient use of computational and other technological platforms that are planned for the Center. The Center supports the development of new platforms for integrating genomics and proteomics analysis; molecular modeling; high-throughput screening; chemical biology; structural biology; and imaging, all of which press the limits of data analysis and data storage. The focal point of the center is a newly renovated 2,400 square foot complex that includes offices, a large computer room, and meeting space.