IBGS emphasizes the use of experimental systems that combine the power of genetic, biochemical/chemical, and cell biological approaches, including non-mammalian model organisms such as yeasts, flies, worms, frogs, zebrafish, and plants. Discoveries made using model systems have and will continue to provide numerous paradigms of cellular function and tissue and organ development that are important to the etiology and treatment of human disease. For example, our fundamental understanding of the regulation of cell division, cell death, and cell communication during development was obtained from research using yeasts and frogs, worms, and fruit flies, respectively. These basic cellular processes are disrupted in nearly every human disease, and drugs targeting these pathways are now used routinely in the clinic. The following information from NIH and short editorials by international leaders in biological and genome sciences articulate this point very well.
- NIH Model Organism Fact Sheet
- Huda Zoghbi, Science 2013
- Marc Kirschner, Science 2013
- Botstein and Drubin, Molecular Biology of the Cell, 2012
- Gitler and Lehmann, Science 2012
- Video: How basic research in model organisms leads to treatment of human disease, FASEB 2013
IBGS also drives innovation by integrating emerging cutting edge technologies in chemical biology with the translational research pipeline. IBGS faculty in the Department of Chemistry have developed tools for RNA structure analysis (SHAPE technology), NMR studies of protein structure in living cells, and structural insights into new approaches to cancer therapeutics. Current efforts are focused on applying these tools to frontier problems in human disease including development of new targets and therapeutics for HIV, understanding Parkinson’s disease, and improving drug tolerance and efficacy in chemotherapy.