Researchers will study cell growth, differentiation

A grant from the G. Harold & Leila Y. Mathers Charitable Foundation will help scientists at the University of Washingtons Cell Systems Initiative build a prototype to study how cells grow, proliferate and differentiate.

"A fundamental problem in cell systems is to understand the information control processes that enable commands encoded within the DNA to be expressed and for that genomic data to be reprogrammed during development. We expect to develop tools that will prove crucial to a better understanding of biology and medicine a platform for the study of molecular networked events as they occur in the changing conditions of a living cell," says Dr. Bob Franza, director of CSI and a research professor in the UWs departments of bioengineering and genome sciences.

There are many uses for better knowledge of cell systems. Someday, researchers might be able to develop more effective drugs and know in advance how a particular drug will work within a cell. The modeling could be done on a computer without initial tests on humans.

CSI, part of the Department of Bioengineering and School of Medicine, is a research and educational initiative whose mission is to understand the dynamic information systems in cells. CSI includes industry and academic participants in collaborative research studies, focused on integrating genomic and functional information, powerful bioinformatics and novel experimental techniques to expand understanding of human disease. CSIs private associates include Immunex Corp. and Isis Pharmaceuticals.

With the $756,000 Mathers grant, CSI hopes to develop a prototype of an observation platform that will allow real-time measurement of complex processes within the cell.

The operations of a cell are unbelievably complicated. "We are developing a technology platform that has the versatility and flexibility required for the analysis of complex regulatory networks," Franza says. "This revolutionar

Contact: Walter Neary
University of Washington

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