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New BioMicro Center plans first symposium

The new MIT BioMicro Center will hold an opening-day symposium for the MIT community this Friday, Jan. 11 in room 68-181 in the Koch Biology Building.

The mission of the BioMicro Center--created by the Department of Biology and the Center for Cancer Research --is to provide centralized support for microarray analysis, computational biology and bioinformatics.

"The center is at the forefront of our effort to integrate research in biology and engineering and thereby establish a leadership role in network and systems biology," said Peter Sorger, associate professor of biology, associate professor of bioengineering and director of the center. "The future of biology is intertwined with biological engineering."

The BioMicro Center focuses on DNA microarray analysis and molecular bioinformatics, but labs working with the center are actively developing new methods in biological computation, protein arraying, biomolecular electronics and pathway modeling. Bioinformatics analyzes DNA and protein sequences for similar and different gene expression patterns in normal cells and cancer cells.

Proteins carry out the functions of a cell. In the field called proteomics, drug developers and cell biologists alike seek to know all of the cell's protein by structure and function and functional interactions.

These new techniques, which still present challenges for researchers, also allow higher resolutions and a greater fundamental understanding of cells than ever before.

The Jan. 11 symposium will begin with a series of scientific talks by MIT faculty and students and continue in the afternoon with additional talks and hands-on demonstrations of BioMicro technology. In the evening, there will be music and refreshments.

The morning scientific session will be on network and systems biology from 9 a.m. to noon. Talks will include "A Bioengineering Approach to Quantitative Cell Signaling and Functional Response Relationships" by Douglas Lauffenburger of the Department of Chemical Engineering and Biological Engineering Division, "Network Biology and Apoptosis" by Sorger, and "Interfacing Molecular Biology to Microelectronics" by Scott Manalis of the Media Lab, as well as others.

In the afternoon, there will be a scientific session of microarraying and computational biology, as well as an introduction to BioMicro facilities and vendors and a student/postdoc poster session, from 1 to 6:30 p.m. in the Koch Building lobby.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on January 9, 2002.

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