Olga Botvinnik, a Ph.D. student in the Bioinformatics and Systems Biology graduate program, has been awarded the 2014 John Hunter Fellowship. The focus of her Fellowship will be to create open source analysis software for the single-cell and biology communities, and to pioneer data, code sharing, and computational reproducibility within the single-cell and RNA biology communities.
The National Science Foundation has awarded Graduate Research Fellowships to Ph.D. students Leen Jamal and Jeffrey Yuan in the graduate Bioinformatics and Systems Biology program, and to students Robin Betz and Christopher Probert in the undergraduate Bioinformatics program.
One of the most basic and intensively studied processes in biology—one which has been detailed in biology textbooks for decades—has gained a new level of understanding, thanks to the application of simple math to a problem that scientists never before thought could benefit from mathematics.
The scientists who made the discovery, published in this week's advance online publication of Nature, found that the process bacteria use to quickly adapt to metabolize preferred energy sources such as glucose—a process called “catabolite repression”—is controlled not just by glucose, as had long been known and taught, but just as much by other essential nutrients, such as nitrogen and sulfur, available to bacteria in their growth medium.
“This is one of the most studied processes in molecular biology; it’s in every textbook,” says Terence Hwa, a professor of physics and biology at UC San Diego, who headed the team of scientists. “We showed that this process doesn’t work the way most people thought it did for the past several decades, and its purpose is different from what had generally been assumed.”
A biology and physics professor at UC San Diego has received a $1.15 million grant from the National Science Foundation to establish a series of annual “boot camps” that will educate San Diego-area high school and college students about an emerging field at the intersection of physics and biology called “quantitative biology.”
"Quantitative biology is more than adding numbers to what biologists already know,” says Suckjoon Jun, an assistant professor of physics and molecular biology, who received the five-year Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) grant, awarded by the foundation to promising young scholar-researchers, and will work with a biology professor at San Diego State University to start the first of the boot camps next summer. “The power of the approach is to bring quantitative rigor from physical sciences to identify and solve important and interesting problems in biology.”
Two early-career scientists at UC San Diego are among 22 of the nation’s most enterprising researchers named Pew Scholars in the Biomedical Sciences by The Pew Charitable Trusts.
These scholars will each receive $240,000 over the next four years to pursue research projects without restriction that are focused on solving some of the nation’s most perplexing health problems—including diabetes, autism, Parkinson’s disease and cancer.
Andrew Huberman, an assistant professor of neurosciences, neurobiology and ophthalmology, and Suckjoon Jun, an assistant professor of physics and molecular biology, join a prestigious community of Nobel laureates, MacArthur Fellows, Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award winners and hundreds of other pioneers who earned Pew grants at the start of their careers.