Explosion of life characterizes Systems Biology at Yale

  • Yale System Biology Institute Retreat 2019 Program
    Yale System Biology Institute Retreat 2019 Program
  • Scholars prepare for the Yale System Biology Institute Retreat 2019
    Scholars prepare for the Yale System Biology Institute Retreat 2019
  • Colleagues gather for the SBI retreat
    Colleagues gather for the SBI retreat
  • Director Andre Levchenko welcomes scholars
    Director Andre Levchenko welcomes scholars

An “explosion of talent and life” across labs of the Yale Systems Biology Institute (SBI) provided the backdrop for a busy day of shared science at the Greenberg Conference Center October 24th.

In just a few years the SBI has established a “growing footprint for patient relevant research,” said Director Andre Levchenko, welcoming colleagues to the 2019 retreat.

Only six years ago, with Yale’s West Campus evolving from its design phase, it wasn’t uncommon to lose one’s way looking for the few labs among the “first settlers.”

That early experimentation is now paying dividends in the form of high output research productivity across the 10 interconnected laboratories of the SBI. Once estranged by long, gloomy corridors, today scholars from diverse backgrounds and fields share open plan spaces intentionally designed for tight-knit collaboration befitting a “systems” approach to biological problems. 

Supported by the latest cutting-edge research technology housed within the West Campus Cores, SBI scientists are exploring some of the world’s most pressing health challenges at the cellular and molecular levels – notably the spread of some of the most complex cancers.

Levchenko’s excitement at having so many Yale departments in the same place – connecting Molecular, Cellular & Developmental Biology, Physics, Genetics, Biomedical Engineering, Microbial Pathogenesis, Immunobiology, Cellular & Molecular Physiology, and Ecology and Evolutionary Biology - is matched only by the important interface now being forged with clinical departments like neurosurgery, dermatology, pathology, and surgery, serving to translate findings in a way that is helpful to patients.

The SBI’s annual Retreat provides time away from lab benches for faculty and students to explore and interact with immediate colleagues and with scientists from across Yale.

In addition to hearing about some of the West Campus Core facilities, presenters included Thierry Emonet (MCDB and Physics), Jonathon Howard (MBB and Physics), new SBI faculty member Hongying Shen (Cellular & Molecular Physiology), and keynote speaker Thomas Pollard, Sterling Professor of Molecular, Cellular & Developmental Biology, and of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry. A “giant of the field,” Pollard’s lab has characterized the proteins that control the assembly and disassembly of actin filaments during cellular motility and endocytosis - the process in which substances are brought into a cell.

By Jon Atherton