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Two UCSD Bioengineering Professors Recognized
as Pioneers in Emerging Field of Comparative Interactomics

By Rex Graham | March 20, 2006

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Technology Review cited Trey Ideker, professor of bioengineering, for nurturing the birth of the new field of comparative interactomics.

Technology Review, MIT’s magazine of technology, has highlighted two bioengineering professors at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) Jacobs School of Engineering, as pioneers of one of 10 “emerging technologies” that the magazine predicts will soon transform computing, medicine, telecommunications, and business. The two professors, Trey Ideker and Bernhard O. Palsson, are cited for pioneering the field of comparative interactomics – mapping the cellular network of interactions among genes, RNA, metabolites, and proteins.

Ideker, principal investigator of UCSD’s Laboratory for Integrative Network Biology, hopes that the insights that his group is uncovering will help lead to new drugs and improvements of existing drugs by providing a better understanding of how they work. Ideker’s group is also devising computerized models of drug toxicity that could replace studies now done on animals.

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Bernhard Palsson, left, professor of bioengineering at UCSD's Jacobs School of Engineering, recently wrote Systems Biology: Properties of Reconstructed Networks (Cambridge University Press, 2006).

Palsson’s new book, Systems Biology: Properties of Reconstructed Networks (Cambridge University Press, 2006), is the first textbook on a multidisciplinary field of science that was made possible with the development in the 1980s of technologies that permit researchers to reconstruct biochemical reaction networks that underlie a variety of cellular functions. “Receiving this credit in Technology Review is nice confirmation that more people think we’re on the right track,” said Ideker. “This applies not only to Bernhard and me, but also to many other scientists working in this nascent field of biological network comparisons.” The special package of stories in the Technology Review’s current March/April issue focuses on technologies that are increasing the understanding and treatment of diseases: the ways that chemical compounds can influence DNA , breakthroughs in imaging the brain, maintaining an accessible and secure digital world, and the hunt for an “ethical” stem cell.

“My bioengineering colleagues and I at UCSD know how visionary Trey and Bernhard are in this cross-disciplinary field of mathematics, systems biology, engineering, and medicine,” said Andrew McCulloch , chair of the Jacobs School of Engineering’s Department of Bioengineering. “The term ‘comparative interactomics’ might not be a commonly used term, but it is providing a new window on what’s going on inside cells, a window that was unimaginable only a few years ago.”

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