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GEN’s editor in chief, John Sterling, interviews life science academic and biotech industry leaders on important research, technology, and trends. These podcasts will keep you informed with all the important details you need.

A multi-institute team of scientists say that they have developed a model which rapidly characterizes and accurately predicts the molecular-level, mechanistic response of a free-living cell to genetic and environmental changes. The study reportedly marks the first time researchers have accurately predicted a cell’s dynamics at the genome scale.

The work included researchers at the Institute for Systems Biology, New York University, the University of Maryland, Vanderbilt University, and the University of Washington.

During this week's podcast, team member Dr. Nitin Baliga, of the Institute for Systems Biology, describes the new model called EGRIN, which stands Environmental and Gene Regulatory Influence, and how it works. He provides details of the study and discusses what the researchers were clearly able to demonstrate once all the results were in.

The scientists relied on the use of Halobacterium salinarum NRC-1, a member of the Archaea family of organisms, for the research project. Dr. Baliga tells why they chose this organism and specifies what they learned from working with it.

The study required a systems biology approach, in which scientists of varied disciplines (e.g., biochemistry, physics, mathematics, computation, statistics, genetics) collaborated and contributed their skill sets to the achievement of a single scientific objective. Dr. Baliga addresses the issues of how you go about bringing such a group with disparate talents together and, just as importantly, how you manage this type of research team and keep them focused on that single scientific objective.

Listen to the podcast then return to the blog to give your thoughts on the following question:

Based on the interview with Dr. Baliga, can you think of some practical applications for the Environmental and Gene Regulatory Influence model he discussed?

Or, if you prefer, post your own topic on the biotech industry subject of your choice. Please share your opinions and observations.
Ph.D., Microbiology University of Massachusetts at Amherst M.Sc., Marine Biotechnology Goa University, India Currently an associate professor at the Institute for Systems Biology in Seattle. Dr. Nitin Baliga is particularly interested in crafting systems level approaches to understand how organisms mount responses to complex changes in their environment. He holds an undergraduate degree in Microbiology from Ruia College, India and a M.Sc. In Marine Biotechnology from Goa University, India. Dr. Baliga conducted his doctoral studies in Microbiology at University of Massachusetts at Amherst and his postdoctoral studies in systems biology with Dr. Leroy Hood at ISB. During his predoctoral studies, he won two competitive awards from the government. Of India: the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research Fellowship, and a fellowship from the Department of Biotechnology. Current research in Dr. Baliga's laboratory is geared towards elucidating complete sets of genetic circuits in Halobacterium NRC-1 that specify its robust behavior in an ever-changing hypersaline (saturated salt) environment. Dr. Baliga's research involves scientists of varied expertise in diverse areas such as environmental molecular microbiology, structural biology and computational biology. Dr. Baliga has also made significant contributions to improving biology education in high schools throughout the greater Seattle area. His primary goal is to develop mind stimulating inquiry modules that teach high school students novel concepts in biology such as systems biology. Research in Dr. Baliga's laboratory is supported by research grants from the National Science Foundation, the Department of Defense, the NASA and Department of Energy.

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