September 1, 2008

$3M CBC Lever Award Helps Attract $15M in Center Funding for the Chicago Center for Systems Biology

The CBC awarded $3 million over three years to help establish the Chicago Center for Systems Biology (CCSB). The CBC Lever Award matches a $15 million award from The National Institute of General Medical Sciences. The NIH award was made in September 2008. The CCSB will be one of 10 National Centers for Systems Biology — the first of its kind in Illinois and an outstanding new research resource for the Chicago region. Systems Biology is an emerging field, focusing on the study of complex interactions in biological systems, including everything from the smallest molecules to complete organisms.

Kevin White, the first appointed “CBC Professor” at the University of Chicago, will direct the CCSB. The Center will focus on collaborations among Chicago-area experts in genomics, developmental biology, evolutionary biology, stress and physiology, chemistry and physics, and computational faculty who specialize in network modeling and high-performance computing. Combining experimental and computational tools, the CCSB will study the dynamic behavior of gene networks in cells, tissues, and organisms, paying specific attention to transcriptional networks and master genes that regulate the activity of other genes.

CBC Lever Awards are matching grants made to inter-institutional groups that are submitting large-scale grant proposals. The Principal Investigators on the Lever Award to the CCSB are Luis Amaral (Northwestern), Robert Grossman (UIC), Richard Morimoto (Northwestern), and Kevin White (University of Chicago). Lever Awards are primarily used to establish transformative infrastructure that can be made broadly available to the Chicago scientific community.

The Lever Award to the CCSB will support the following four key initiatives:

1. Developing an enhanced imaging core, that uniquely combines microfluidics and confocal microscopy for live imaging of model organisms, tissues, and cells.

2. Cultivating a recombination and high-throughput cloning core to support genetic modifications to chromosomal sections for human, mouse, Drosophila, and C. elegans genomes.

3. Advancing a computational core that will integrate intimately with the biological driver projects and which will produce software modules that will be useful to a much broader community.

4. Establishing a “CBC Research Fellows Program in Systems Biology” to train the next generation of young scientists in the art of interdisciplinary research in Systems Biology.

Once established with Lever Award funding, the core facilities will be available to researchers at all CBC institutions.