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Systems Biology

The allure of the superficial

A new paper from my lab and Patsy Babbitt’s lab in UCSF has recently been published  in  PLoS Computational Biology. It is something of a cautionary tale for quantitative biologists, especially  bioinformaticians and system biologists. Genomics has ushered biology into the  data rich sciences. Bioinformatics, developing alongside genomics, provided the tools necessary to decipher genomic […]

Making genomes less CAGI

cag·ey    /ˈkājē/ (adjective) Reluctant to give information owing to caution or suspicion CAGI /ˈkājē/ (acronym) Critical Assessment of Genomic Interpretations. For details keep reading. The ability to sequence one’s genome adds a new dimension to the ancient maxim “know thyself”. What could be more revealing of one’s self than one’s own blueprint, explaining existing […]

I can’t hear you, the bacteria are too noisy

Much too noisy. When looking at a population of genetically identical bacteria, the number of proteins they produce varies. The picture below shows the levels of one type of protein that was fused to a green fluorescent protein (so we can see it): clearly there is a variation in how much of the protein each […]

A non-post about Craig Venter’s new bug

In case you have been vacationing in a parallel universe in the past two days, you should have heard about the new synthetic bacterium created at the J Craig Venter Institute. In a nutshell, the scientific team synthesized an artificial chromosome of the bacterium Mycoplasma mycoides and transferred it to another bacterium, Mycoplasma capricolum. The […]

Comparative Functional Genomics: Penguin vs. Bacterium

No, not the flesh-blood-and-feathers penguin, but rather Tux, the beloved mascot of the Linux operating system. Compared with Escherichia coli, the model organism of choice for microbiologists. We refer to DNA as “the book of life”; some geeks refer to it as the “operating system of life”. Just like in a computer’s operating system, DNA […]