Institute for Systems Biology Programs
The scientists at ISB are uniquely positioned to tackle some of the most challenging "big data" questions related to research on diseases and health and wellness. Our systems approach brings together the best cross-disciplinary scientific minds, with the latest technology and analytics capabilities for projects such as:
100K Wellness Project
ISB recently launched an innovative pilot project in wellness, where 100 healthy individuals will be at the forefront of an emerging revolution in medicine. The nine-month pilot study aims to gain a deeper understanding of the transition from wellness to disease by capturing extensive amounts of health data from participants, which will be aggregated to create a virtual data cloud of actionable health information—data that may prove invaluable in optimizing wellness at the individual level.
If successful, we plan to scale the study in several phases until it encompasses 100,000 individual participants that will be monitored over 25 years. This project will provide unprecedented insight into early disease transitions and enable the development of new diagnostic tests that will ultimately shift the conversation from treating disease to preventing it. It will be transformative for improving healthcare, reducing costs, and fostering innovation, entrepreneurship and strategic partnerships throughout the Northwest and beyond.
ISB is one of seven Genome Data Analysis Centers (GDAC’s) participating in The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA), a comprehensive project among several hundred researchers from institutions across the country to characterize the genomes of more than 25 types of cancer in an effort to better understand its molecular basis. Our researchers are responsible for developing new computational technologies that help analyze and integrate the vast amount of tumor data generated by the project.
ISB is pioneering new ways of understanding the brain’s complexity, in both its functions and dysfunctions, to enable better diagnostics, treatments, and prevention of neuropathologies. We apply our systems approach to diseases such as glioblastoma multiforme, ALS, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s.
We are immensely proud of our recent efforts to identify a tangible way to discuss, diagnose and treat mental illness as physical illness, beginning with Post Traumatic Stress, which affects many of our veterans returning from deployment. Our research is focused on developing a quantitative blood diagnostic to replace the existing psychological diagnosis. If successful, such an advance can be extended to other neuropsychological disorders such as schizophrenia, bipolar and autism.
Education and Outreach
From our inception, ISB has been committed to making our tools and discoveries available to the greater research community in order to catalyze scientific discovery on a larger scale and maximize our impact on human health. Our advanced systems science courses, undergraduate and graduate internships, and annual Symposium offer ongoing opportunities to share what we have learned.
We have also dedicated ourselves to nurturing the capacity of K-12 science educators to produce scientifically literate and capable students. Our award-winning Logan Center for Education (formerly Center for Inquiry Science) has established partnerships with most every school district in the Puget Sound region to provide professional development programs that enable science educators to be more effective in their classrooms, and our Systems Education Experiences (SEE) program has developed several free STEM curriculum modules, equipping classrooms with hands-on, research-based, learning experiences.
Recent Successes and Current Challenges
- ISB researchers recently collaborated on a breakthrough study with Integrated Diagnostics (InDi), an ISB spin-out company, which utilized InDi’s highly sensitive mass spectrometry technology and ISB’s cutting-edge bioinformatics to develop 13-protein blood-based panel that can accurately distinguish between benign lung nodules and early-stage lung cancer over 90% of the time. A simple blood test is now being commercialized and will may soon assist physicians with early diagnosis and spare patients from invasive and costly biopsies of benign nodules—and this is just the beginning.
ISB is currently applying the principles used to develop the lung nodule classifier to identify clinically relevant blood bio-markers for the diagnosis of Post-Traumatic Stress. The initial results have been extremely promising and we are in the process of raising funds to validate the study and move towards our goal of a commercial PTS diagnostic test.
Ultimately, this approach can be applied to a range of unmet diagnostic medical needs, and we are excited about the opportunities to build on this research and achieve a new future for human health.
- ISB President, Lee Hood, was recently awarded Research!America’s 2014 Geoffrey Beene Builders of Science Award, for pioneering the development of instruments that paved the way for the successful mapping of the human genome as well as the revolutionary field of systems biology.
We expect to invent the future of human health and our progress requires your investment.
ISB relies on the generosity of individual contributors to provide the flexible support necessary to allow our innovative scientists to continue to challenge the status quo and advance breakthrough science through a cross-disciplinary, systems approach to understanding wellness and disease.
Your giving will directly support our ability to:
- Scale our 100 Person Wellness Project to 100,000 participants
- Use “blood as a window” to identify bio-marker panels that accurately predict disease
- Train and support science educators to have the capacity to produce scientifically literate students