About the Center
The Cecil H. and Ida Green Center for Systems Biology was created in 2004 by a generous gift from the Cecil H. and Ida Green Foundation. This Center was merged with the Lyda Hill Department of Bioinformatics in Spring 2021. The Green Center currently has seven tenure-track faculty and one UTSW Distinguished Fellow.
The Center's goal of describing a "circuit theory" for biology was historically addressed via a generic framework of biological questions. Now, the new Green Center will focus on two paticularly exciting themes that align the field of Systems Biology with UT Southwestern's mission of providing patient care by leveraging innovation in basic science and clinical research:
- Cancer Metastasis - Current cancer therapies lack major insight into non-genetic mechanisms of metastasis and drug resistance that are governed by autonomous cellular signaling programs and complex interactions with the environment. To probe these behaviors, three of the Center's eight faculty research labs (Danuser, Dean, and Fiolka ) are collaboratively developing unique microscopy pipelines to visualize molecular processes in real time within the environment of a metastatic niche excised from human tissue biopsies, in preclinical model organisms (mouse and zebrafish), and in engineered ex vivo tissue models. These pipelines are designed to run from experimental setup to computational data visualization and causal inference for identifications of the circuitry underlying metastatic propensity. We have established a collaborative Center for Metastatic Tumor Imaging funded by a U54 grant from the CCBIR program with collaborators.
- Bacterial genomics, regulation, and resistance - Bacteria are a powerful unicellular model system to investigate the fundamental relation between genomic sequence, gene and protein expression, dynamics of molecular pathways, and resultant phenotypes. The fundamental principles of molecular circuitry are conserved from bacteria to human cells. Four of the Center's eight faculty research labs (Kim, Lin, Reynolds, and Toprak) are collectively working to elucidate and eventually program this molecular circuitry in the context of metabolic regulation and antibiotic resistance. These labs are joined by our UTSW Distinguished Fellow, Scott Saunders, who develops revolutionary technology for editing bacterial genomes with unprecedented efficiency to accelerate experimentation.
We are building a new Biosynthetic Pathway Design Collaborative initiative in synthetic biology driven by recent advances in our own labs and embracing a spirit of team-based science. Moving beyond the creation of a few bespoke pathways by a handful of well-resourced laboratories requires new approaches for accelerated programmatic engineering of biosynthesis. We are developing predictive computational tools and “design rules” that can limit the space of possible variants that must be explored, directing our experimental effort towards high-yield and catalytically diverse solution spaces. By coupling advances in the basic science of bacterial physiology with new tools in deep learning, cell simulation, and bacterial genetics, we aim to transform the process of cellular engineering.
The Green Center brings together both approaches with scientific synergy to apply axioms of molecular circuitry understood through bacteria to cancer metastasis.