Princeton quantitative biology center awarded $15 million renewal grant

The Princeton Center for Quantitative Biology will receive $15.54 million over the next five years to continue its research and teaching in biological processes from aging to malaria by developing improved quantitative models, data sets and computational analysis equipment and methods.

The National Institute of General Medical Sciences has renewed its 2004 grant that established the center as one of 10 National Centers for Systems Biology funded by the institute, one of the National Institutes of Health.

"Revolutionary diagnostic and therapeutic possibilities for complex diseases like cancer have become possible," said David Botstein, the center's principal investigator and the Anthony B. Evnin '62 Professor of Genomics. "Realizing these possibilities requires the multidisciplinary environment, technical resources and a fully quantitative biological education that the Princeton center provides."

Botstein, the director of the Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics, leads the center with co-principal investigator James Broach, a professor of molecular biology.

Housed within the Lewis-Sigler Institute, the center brings together faculty and fellows in the fields of biology (both ecology and evolutionary biology and molecular biology), computer science, chemistry and physics, among others, to study how biological molecules interact and respond to their environment using advanced computational methods. More than 200 research papers have been published with the center's support in the last four years.

The faculty and fellows also have developed curricula for integrating the teaching of biology and quantitative thinking for students from middle school to graduate school. These include the Integrated Science Curriculum, a revolutionary new introductory science program developed at Princeton for undergraduates considering a career in science. They also include the Princeton Molecular Biology Outreach Program, a two-week summer workshop focusing on hands-on experimental work in the laboratory designed to illustrate the principles of modern molecular biology and genetics for middle and high school science teachers.

The funding allows the center to purchase and develop high-tech equipment, such as DNA microarrays, available to all Princeton researchers, and to conduct large-scale data collection and analysis, available to the public after publication.

"We are very pleased to renew the Center of Quantitative Biology for a second five-year term," said Paul Brazhnik, who oversees systems biology grants at the National Institute of General Medical Sciences. "The center has an excellent track record of accomplishments and promises to extend it by furthering research on diverse biological processes, establishing new facilities and developing novel methodologies. Through its unique and highly successful multi-disciplinary undergraduate and graduate programs the center is also playing a leading role in training the next generation of systems biologists."