Research Overview

In the area of the physics of the genome, we have been pursuing a multi-faceted approach which studies both large-scale structure as well as more local gene level behavior. Of interest are both the structural organizing principles as a function of cell cycle location and differentiation status, and the feedback between structure and transcriptional dynamics.

On the experimental front , the advent of HI-C technology has enabled large scale investigations of genome structures throughout the kingdoms of life. Current efforts focus on how specific proteins determine structural properties and how these proteins are distributed among different animal and plant settings. Computational modeling then allows for a mechanistic understanding to emerge of how the observed correlations come about.

Cells undergo phenotypic transitions including changing bidirectionally between fully differentiated types and more stemlike states. This type of process occurs normally during development and abnormally during cancer progression. These transitions necessitate large scale changes in cell physiology, for example in metabolic processes supporting altered needs for biosynthesis and/or energy production in the altered state.

Cells and organisms are not just abstract collections of genes, but instead need to build functional components that can instantiate molecular recognition and biophysical action. This is the research area where the study of biological systems overlaps with soft condensed matter studies, albeit with an overlay of information processing and regulatory control. We investigate this paradigm in several different contexts, including self-organization of the cytoskeleton and the multiscale workings of the immune system.

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