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Centre for Integrative Systems Biology at Imperial College appoints new Director

Visit  Imperial College London website

15 December 2006

Professor Jaroslav Stark from Imperial College London's Department of Mathematics has been appointed the new Director of the interdisciplinary Centre for Integrative Systems Biology at Imperial College (CISBIC). Professor Stark will take up his four year post at the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)-funded centre in January 2007.

CISBIC is one of six such BBSRC centres across the UK, which is bringing mathematicians and computer scientists together with biologists to shed new light on biological problems at the molecular and cellular levels. The centres also receive funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.

The Imperial centre's research focuses on microbes that cause disease, such as bacteria and funghi, and the way that they interact with the hosts they infect. The CISBIC team are looking at the fundamental science behind the initial immune response to infection that occurs in cells. Mathematicians and computer scientists have a vital role to play in this process, helping biologists understand the complex way in which large numbers of molecules react and interact when infection occurs. Ultimately such understanding could help to contribute to the development of better vaccines for major diseases such as tuberculosis.

Professor Stark explains: "Advances in molecular biosciences and technology in the last decade mean that scientists now have extremely powerful tools for the accurate analysis of individual molecules and their individual interactions. However, most biological phenomena occur through the complex interplay of the substantial numbers of proteins and other molecules that occur in all living organisms. Traditional experimental approaches can have difficulty integrating this wealth of information. This is where mathematics, computation and modelling comes in – it’s as though experimental biology is providing us with a list of pieces and their shapes, and mathematics is helping to provide the means of putting them together into a coherent whole."

During his tenure as centre Director, Professor Stark hopes to stimulate more partnership working and to encourage more mathematicians and biologists to collaborate in this novel way. He said: "There's a strong tradition of interdisciplinary research at Imperial and CISBIC provides us with a great opportunity to bridge the 'language gap' which can sometimes exist between the physical and life sciences. I’m looking forward to working with the CISBIC team to develop new ways of using the expertise in different departments at the College to broaden our understanding of biology and biological processes."

Professor Paul Freemont , head of the Division of Molecular Biosciences at Imperial added: "I'm delighted that Professor Stark is taking on the role of CISBIC Director from next year. Our Division plays a key role in a number of collaborations with colleagues from across the College's engineering, medical and physical science departments, and CISBIC is an important part of this commitment to interdisciplinary work."

ENDS

About Imperial College London

Consistently rated in the top three UK university institutions, Imperial College London is a world leading science-based university whose reputation for excellence in teaching and research attracts students (11,500) and staff (6,000) of the highest international quality. Innovative research at the College explores the interface between science, medicine, engineering and management and delivers practical solutions that enhance the quality of life and the environment - underpinned by a dynamic enterprise culture. Website: http://www.imperial.ac.uk

About BBSRC

The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) is the UK funding agency for research in the life sciences. Sponsored by Government, BBSRC annually invests around £380 million in a wide range of research that makes a significant contribution to the quality of life for UK citizens and supports a number of important industrial stakeholders including the agriculture, food, chemical, healthcare and pharmaceutical sectors. http://www.bbsrc.ac.uk

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Danielle Reeves, Press Office, Imperial College London

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