Institute for Systems Biology 


The Institute for Systems Biology (ISB) was established 2000 on the belief that the conventional models for exploring and funding breakthrough science have not caught up with the real potential of what is possible today. ISB serves as the ultimate environment where scientific collaboration stretches across disciplines, where our researchers have the intellectual freedom to challenge the status quo, and where grand visions for breakthroughs in human health inspire a collective drive to achieve the seemingly impossible. Our core values ensure that we always keep our focus on the big ideas that eventually will have the biggest impact on human health.

Mission Statement
We exist to make profound breakthroughs in human health, leveraging the revolutionary potential of systems biology.

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Institute for Systems Biology
401 Terry Avenue North 
(206) 732-1200 

Leroy E. Hood 


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 has embarked upon a digital-age, longitudinal study of 100,000 well individuals that will provide unprecedented insight into the transition from wellness to disease. 

Phase 1 of the project was launched in March 2014 with a group of 100 pilot participants. Extensive amounts of health data were collected from these “pioneers” that has been aggregated to create a virtual data cloud of actionable health information—data that has given each participant new insights into how to improve their own health and will contribute to an emerging revolution in medicine where we shift the conversation from treating disease to preventing it.

This project will be transformative for improving healthcare, reducing costs, and fostering innovation, entrepreneurship and strategic partnerships throughout the Northwest and beyond.  

Wilke Lyme Disease Project
ISB recently launched the first stage of a 3-year study aimed at tackling the chronic form of Lyme, a highly complex and often misdiagnosed disease that can be debilitating for those who do not respond to a standard course of antibiotics. Through a series of integrated projects, ISB researchers will leverage the tools and technologies of systems biology to deepen our understanding of the fundamentals of Lyme, identify biomarkers, and gain insights about the genomics and proteomics of the infecting Borrelia organism. 

The Wilke Lyme Disease Project is an imperative step toward understanding the longitudinal dynamics of the acute disease, which is essential to tackling chronic Lyme.

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 a wide range of neurodegenerative diseases including ALS, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, and Alzheimer’s.  

We are also 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 conducted the first major whole-genome study of bipolar disorder (BD), sequencing the genomes of 200 individuals from 41 families with BD, a common, severe and recurrent psychiatric disorder with no known cure. The team has identified several genes and pathways that have a significant burden of rare variants in BD, which may lead to new ways to treat a disease for which heritable causes contribute up to 80 percent lifetime risk. 

ISB researchers recently collaborated to identify a key protein tied to our immune response to inflammation that prevents the export of ‘bad’ cholesteral (LDL) to ‘good’ cholesteral (HDL). This research represents an exciting new advance into how cholesterol levels are controlled by inflammation, and provides insight into potential therapeutic targets for the treatment of cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death in the world.

ISB was one of three organizations awarded a contract from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to develop The Cancer Genomics Cloud (CGC), a cloud­based platform that will serve as a large­scale data repository and provide the computational infrastructure necessary to carry out cancer genomics research at unprecedented scales. The CGC will democratize access to the wealth of cancer genomics data as well as facilitate collaborative research by allowing scientists to work on common datasets and projects in a cloud environment. 

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 100K Wellness Project to its next phase of 1,000 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


The purpose of the Institute for Systems Biology’s Center for Inquiry Science (CIS) is to train and support science educators to have the capacity to produce scientifically literate, capable students. CIS is a group of 6-8 science educators, akin to a lab group, that support Puget Sound region school districts in developing and implementing system-wide science education strategic plans. Services offered to school districts include consulting, customized professional development for classroom teachers, leadership training for coaches and administrators, and partnerships in acquiring and implementing grant-funded programs.

Proven Success
CIS’ Observing for Evidence of Learning professional development model enables whole science departments (middle or high school) to evaluate and enhance their science curricular materials. Students whose teachers have participated in this initiative have made significant gains in science achievement, outpacing the state average. The schools and students making the greatest gains are those with large numbers of low-income students (e.g., high-poverty middle schools in Seattle).

Strong Leadership
CIS has a strong, highly-respected director and science educator who has been with CIS since its inception.

Use of Best Practices
CIS takes a long-term, comprehensive approach to improving science teaching and learning within school districts. Its work with partner-districts is characterized by: 1) a systems focus (either on whole school district, or on specific grade-bands within a district; 2) multiple, customized forms of professional development for teachers and school leaders based on district needs and readiness, and 3) extensive regional and collaborative partnerships with regional colleges of education (UW, SPU), Educational Service Districts, research organizations (NOAA) and other nonprofit STEM providers like Washington MESA.

Grant History with The Seattle Foundation:

Grants Awarded through The Seattle Foundation Grantmaking Program:

6/10/2012 $10,000.00support general operating expenses.
6/26/2008 $20,000.00support general operating expenses of the Center for Inquiry Science.


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