A cell makes what looks like decisions throughout its lifetime. It may shift from being a pluripotent stem cell to a specific cell type, or from an inactive state to dividing. Harnessing these transitions could unlock countless potential therapies, but because they involve thousands of genes working together, their complexity has been a roadblock to advancing new cancer treatments, regenerative medicine and other applications.
Jackson Laboratory Assistant Professor Mingyang Lu has developed a computational approach to capturing the genetic events involved in cellular decision-making. His lab’s algorithm, called RACIPE (for random circuit perturbation), could have a broad impact on basic research in systems biology and designing new therapeutic interventions in genomic medicine.
Lu has received a special five-year Maximizing Investigators’ Research Award (MIRA) totaling $2,187,500 from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences to further develop RACIPE into a comprehensive toolkit for researchers, enabling them to pinpoint the gene regulatory mechanism of cellular decision-making in any cell of interest.
MIRA grants are intended to provide exceptionally talented and promising investigators with greater stability and flexibility, “thereby enhancing scientific productivity and the chances for important breakthroughs.”