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Cell cycle research earns biologist Virginia's top scientist award

Blacksburg, Va. -- John J. Tyson of Blacksburg, Va., University Distinguished Professor of Biology in the College of Science at Virginia Tech, has been named one of Virginia's three Outstanding Scientists of 2004, according to an announcement by Governor Mark R. Warner and Science Museum of Virginia Director Walter R.T. Witschey.

Tyson is a world leader in the newly emerging field of computational cell biology. To gain a better understanding of the molecular mechanisms that control cell growth and division, Tyson and his colleagues build mathematical models of interacting genes and proteins and solve the equations on their computers. By comparing the computer simulations to a host of experimental observations, Tyson said, computational biologists provide new insights into the integrated behavior of complex regulatory systems.

This rigorous, quantitative, computational approach to molecular cell biology provides a new method to understand and ultimately to treat medical problems originating from molecular dys-regulation: for example, cancer, which is an example of too much cell growth and division, or nerve-cell regeneration, which represents too little growth and division. Pharmaceutical companies are interested in this approach as a more reliable way to predict the consequences of new drug therapies on complex cellular regulatory systems.

According to the governor's office, "Using his expertise in the dynamics of complex chemical reactions, he (Tyson) seeks to understand the molecular mechanisms that control cellular decision-making, such as when cells divide or how they anticipate sunrise. Together with Dr. Bela Novak of the Budapest University of Technology and Economics, Tyson builds mathematical models of genes and proteins and their chemical interactions and then simulates the changing patterns of molecular activity in time and space. These calculations can be compared with great precision to the observed behavior of living cells to d
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Contact: Sally Harris
slharris@vt.edu
540-231-6759
Virginia Tech
24-Feb-2004


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