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UC Irvine to receive $11.5 million in support of biology center

Interdisciplinary research center examines fundamental life systems

by Caitlin AdamsPublished: October 11, 2012 02:15 AM

Dr. Arthur Lander, director of the UCI
Center for Complex Biological Systems
The National Institute of General Medical Sciences, one of the National Institutes of Health, has awarded UC Irvine $11.5 million over five years to support the research into the complexity of life. The UCI Center for Complex Biological Systems brings together biologists, mathematicians, physicists, engineers and computer scientists to collaborate on the study and understanding of fundamental biology.

When it was established in 2001, the UCI center was the first in the state dedicated to an emerging field of study, employing state-of-the-art technology and computational methods to study the biological workings of structures on the molecular and cellular levels, networks and interactions of tissues and organs, creating complex, functioning biological systems.

“Over the past decade, we’ve tried to take a teamwork approach to really hard biological problems, encouraging researchers from all over the sciences and engineering to work together,” said Dr. Arthur Lander, center director and professor of developmental and cell biology and biomedical engineering. “This award is a clear endorsement of that strategy, especially given the current funding environment.”

The UCI center focuses its research efforts on “spatial dynamics,” by examining how biological systems evolve to control what happens not only over time, but over space as well –– such as in different locations in cells and organs. The center takes particular advantage of the UCI’s strong computer sciences and applied mathematics and science departments, not only for faculty and graduate studies; microscopes, lasers and fluorescence are all used in the center’s research into cellular biology and tissue development.

In its eleven years, the center has helped UC Irvine raise more than $36 million in federal and private aid for research, education, and outreach, and is one of only 13 National Centers for Systems Biology in the country. The UCI center received a National Institute of General Medical Sciences grant of $450,000 following its launch in 2002 and another in 2007 of $14.5 million.

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