Modern technology now allows the analysis of immune responses and host-pathogen interactions at a global level, across scales ranging from intracellular signaling networks to individual cell behavior to the functioning of a tissue, an organ, and the whole organism. The challenge is not only to collect the large amounts of data such methods permit but also to organize the information in a manner that enhances our understanding of how the immune system operates or how pathogens affect their hosts.
To do this, it is necessary to develop detailed quantitative models that can be used to predict the behavior of a complex biological system, whose properties help explain the mechanistic basis for physiological and pathological responses to infection or vaccination and can be used to design new therapies or vaccines.
Achieving this goal requires an interdisciplinary effort, and the Laboratory of Systems Biology (LSB) is designed to address this challenge.
LSB is an integrated group of scientists and support staff, rather than a collection of independent laboratories. Although it has been established within NIAID, it is expected to play a major role in fostering the growth of systems biology efforts across the National Institutes of Health (NIH), through its development of new software tools for complex systems modeling and high-throughput screening. LSB members are expected to become involved in an extensive web of formal and informal interactions with other intramural NIH scientists and with extramural groups in the United States and abroad that have a common interest in a systems approach to biology.
Major Areas of Research
- Computational biology, bioinformatics, proteomics, cell biology, immunology, and infectious diseases
- Latest technology for gene expression profiling, high-content screening of RNAi libraries for the discovery of pathway components, high-throughput proteomic and genomic analysis, imaging tools, and an extensive computer infrastructure
- Access to BSL-3 facilities for working with infectious agents of high priority for human health