Quantitative and Systems Biology

NSF Grant Helps Professor Connect Evolutionary Dots along the Open Tree of Life

UC Merced life and environmental sciences Professor Emily Jane McTavish and a collaborator at the University of Kansas recently received a $1.4 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to extend and improve the Open Tree of Life (OpenTree).

$2.5M Grant Will Help Professor to Build a Powerful Molecular Imaging Scanner

Bioengineering Professor Changqing Li was recently awarded a four-year, $2.5 million R01 grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to help develop a focused X-ray luminescence tomography (FXLT) scanner that could accelerate cancer research.

The scanner is a first-of-its kind molecular imaging tool that will allow researchers to visualize how disease progresses and monitor the effectiveness of novel drug-delivery systems in live animals — without invasive surgeries or euthanizing the animals.

CAREER Award Will Help Professor Predict How Species Respond to Climate Change

Paleoecology Professor Jessica Blois recently became the campus’s 19th recipient of the National Science Foundation (NSF) Faculty Early Career Development Program (CAREER) award.

The NSF describes as the CAREER as its “most prestigious award in support of early-career faculty who have the potential to serve as academic role models in research and education and to lead advances in the mission of their organizations.”

The award provides Blois with $782,449 over the next five years to pursue an agenda that includes research and outreach.

Cancer Systems Biology Identifies Master Regulators and New Drug Targets in Therapy-Resistant Cancer

New research published today in the Nature Partner journal npj Systems Biology and Applications establishes how genome-wide data in combination with systems biology analyses can identify master regulators and new drug targets in therapy-resistant cancers.

The new discovery explains how cancer controls specific effector networks — findings with important implications for the future of cancer therapy.

Misbehaving “Killer” Cells Accelerate Progress of Autoimmune Disease

In 1998, scientists studying rheumatoid arthritis observed a population of immune cells that weren’t behaving the way they were supposed to. Immunologists noted the strange phenomenon, but decided not to pursue the subject further, and the cells were soon forgotten.

But interest in these cells has swelled over the past few years as they’ve been found in patients with chronic viral infections and cancer.

Following a Devastating Pandemic, California’s Sea Stars are Evolving

In 2012, Environmental Systems graduate student Lauren Schiebelhut was collecting DNA from ochre sea stars living along the Northern California coast — part of an effort to study genetic diversity in various marine species that serve as indicators of habitat health. She had no idea that just one year later, most of the sea stars would be dead.

Beaudin Named Campus’ Second Winner of Prestigious Pew Award

Biology Professor Anna Beaudin was named a member of the 2018 class of Pew Biomedical Scholars today, one of 22 early-career researchers nationwide to receive this year’s prestigious award.

“I am thrilled and humbled to be joining such an accomplished and talented group of scientists as a 2018 Pew Biomedical Scholar,” Beaudin said. “Receiving this award will give my lab the opportunity to dig deeper into how early life events shape immunity across the lifespan and contribute to autoimmune disease susceptibility.”

Students Discover Cannibal Lizards on Remote Aegean Island

It reads like a mashup of Greek mythology and H.G. Wells. “The Odyssey of Doctor Moreau,” perhaps. Explorers find their way to a remote Aegean island and discover it’s inhabited by reptilian cannibals. They describe one encounter as follows:

“[I]t began to run away, with the dead lizard torso and head still in its mouth. The cannibal continuously ran along the top of a wall and paused intermittently to thrash the corpse against the cement.”

QSB’s Portia Mira Places Third at GradSlam Finals

Portia Mira scored $1,000 for winning third place in the University of California’s 2018 Grad Slam competition , marking UC Merced’s first appearance as a top-three finalist during the systemwide contest.

QSB’s Portia Mira Wins GradSlam!, Advances to Finals

After a fierce round of competition during last week’s UC Merced GradSlam! finals, the third time was the charm for quantitative and systems biology (QSB) student Portia Mira, who emerged as the campus’s new champion.

For her success, Mira earned a $5,000 grand prize and the honor of representing UC Merced at the systemwide GradSlam! contest on May 3 at LinkedIn headquarters in San Francisco.

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