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 ABOUT DSB LogoFinalWhite_expanded text edit copy.jpg

One of the defining features of living organisms is their astonishing complexity. Even seemingly simple single cell organisms such as microbes display exceedingly complex behaviors, determined by intricate molecular networks in which large numbers of molecular components, pathways and chemical reactions act together. These behaviors have fascinated scientists for decades and include development, response to pathogenic and environmental insults and interactions with other organisms. Understanding how complexity of living systems arises and coordinates cellular function and pathologies continues to be one of the principal goals of biomedical research today.

The Program in Systems Biology (PSB) studies how biological complexity can be derived and understood from the interplay between individual components and processes that combine to make up living organisms.

PSB started in the fall of 2011 and currently comprises seven research groups. The program maintains and continues to encourage collaborations between the groups, as well as with other programs and departments across UMMS. The PSB is located in the Albert Sherman Center, a state-of-the-art research and education facility designed to promote collaboration and communication between cutting-edge research programs and to enhance graduate and medical education.

The program brings together an enthusiastic and highly collaborative group of scientists that employ an array of experimental and computational approaches to study a variety of biological systems. Research in the program ranges from quantitative studies of properties of single cells to analyses of complex phenotypes of animals, and leverages the latest technological developments in the areas of molecular biology, genomics, high-content imaging, quantitative modeling, computer science and bioinformatics. The commonality of all research in the program is the integration of high-throughput experimentation and quantitative data analyses to study how biological systems behave, respond, adapt and evolve. Disease states are increasingly considered to be caused not by a singular biochemical alteration, but instead are viewed as the result of wider disruptions of the complex interplay between the many molecular components and processes that make up the human body. Researchers in the program aim to unravel how systems go awry in a variety of pathologies and how systems can be perturbed to mitigate disease.

Latest Publications

Latest Publications

Shank Lab

Rhizobacteria impact colonization of Listeria monocytogenes on Arabidopsis thaliana roots

Shank Lab

Defining the expression, production, and signaling roles of specialized metabolites during Bacillus subtilis differentiation

Shank Lab

Expanding Molecular Coverage in Mass Spectrometry Imaging of Microbial Systems Using Metal-Assisted Laser Desorption/Ionization

The Mitchell Lab

Assembling stable syntrophic Escherichia coli communities by comprehensively identifying beneficiaries of secreted goods

The Brewster Lab

Inherent regulatory asymmetry emanating from network architecture in a prevalent autoregulatory motif

The Dekker Lab 

Liquid chromatin Hi-C characterizes compartment-dependent chromatin interaction dynamics

The Dekker Lab 

Volume 53 Issue 5

Genetic and spatial organization of the unusual chromosomes of the dinoflagellate Symbiodinium microadriaticum

The Lee Lab

ELP-dependent expression of MCL1 promotes resistance to EGFR inhibition in triple-negative breast cancer cells

Although the activity of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) pathway is increased in triple-negative breast cancers (TNBC), patients are generally insensitive to EGFR inhibitors. Peter Cruz-Gordillo, Megan Honeywell, and colleagues found that this is because TNBC cells produced the prosurvival protein Mcl-1. A gene deletion screen revealed that insensitivity to the EGFR inhibitor erlotinib required MCL1 expression promoted by the ELP family of transcription-elongation regulators, particularly ELP4. The findings suggest that an ELP4–Mcl-1 mechanism masks erlotinib sensitivity in TNBC and that combining erlotinib with an Mcl-1 inhibitor might be effective in patients with TNBC.

Cruz-Gordillo P, Honeywell ME, Harper NW, Leete T, Lee MJ. (2020). ELP-dependent expression of MCL1 promotes resistance to EGFR inhibition in triple-negative breast cancer cells. Science Signaling 13(658), eabb982

More Publications

Latest News

UMass Chan Medical School establishes new Department of Systems Biology

Marian Walhout, PhD, named founding chair of department elevated from program status

UMass Chan Medical School Communications

September 28, 2021

The Program in Systems Biology has been elevated to full department status, with Marian Walhout, PhD, the Maroun Semaan Chair in Biomedical Research and professor of molecular medicine, serving as the founding chair of the Department of Systems Biology, Terence R. Flotte, MD, executive deputy chancellor and provost of UMass Chan Medical School and dean of the T.H. Chan School of Medicine, announced on Sep. 27.

Marian Walhout, PhD

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Congratulations to Michael Lee on receiving tenure!

October, 2021

The Program in Systems Biology Welcomes our Newest Rotation Students

September, 2021

Gavin Birdsall - Joins the Lee Lab for Rotation

Vista Sohrab - Joins the Mitchell Lab for Rotation

Carmen Li - Joins the Shank Lab for Rotation

Lauren Intravaia - Joins the Walhout Lab for Rotation

Bradley Class Joins the Youk Lab for Rotation


The Mitchell Lab Welcomes Sydney Schock (GSBS Student)!

September, 2021

The Youk Lab Welcomes Helen Magana (GSBS Student)!

September, 2021

The Dekker Lab Welcomes Jiangyuan Liu (GSBS Student) and Xiangru Huo (Bioinformatician)!

September, 2021

Congratulations to Mariana Noto Guillen from the Mitchell Lab!

June, 2021

Mariana was nominated and selected to received the Dean's Award for Outstanding Mid-thesis Research by the GSBS Awards and Recognition Committe!


Congratulations to Michael Lee!

June, 2021

Michael Lee received a 22 month sponsored research agreement with Hillstream Biopharma. The project is titled “Chemo-genetic profiling to identify mechanisms of action and genetic determinants of sensitivity for novel chemotherapeutics” and this collaboration isto determine the mechanisms of action and chemo-genetic interactions for their novel compound.


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