Think of Andrew Emili as the Magellan of proteins.
The renowned molecular systems biologist says that human health and development depend on the network of interactions between the tens of thousands of proteins encoded in the human genome. But despite rapid advances in genomics, scientists know little about how these interactions work and how faulty interactions lead to disease.
This is where Emili and the new University-wide Center for Network Systems Biology (CNSB) come in. Emili hopes to create maps of protein interactions, which he describes as assembly instructions for molecular networks, and make them available to the broader research community. His ultimate goal is to translate this basic knowledge into novel diagnostic and therapeutic tools for cancer, cardiovascular disease, and Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative disorders.
“BU has tremendous resources, and, given the widespread community support, I think the center can leapfrog ahead and chart out some exciting new terrain to claim and explore.”
Emili, director of the CNSB, is widely regarded as a leader in the use of proteomics, the study of the protein products of genes, and mass spectrometry, a tool that can separate individual proteins from their connections, as well as bioinformatics and other molecular genetic and genomic technologies.
As a jointly appointed faculty member at the School of Medicine biochemistry department and the College of Arts & Sciences biology department, Emili serves as a bridge between the Medical and Charles River Campuses. His vision for the CNSB is “a highly collaborative, multidisciplinary research hub that tackles important fundamental questions in the field by forging new links with interested researchers across all BU campuses, the greater Boston area, and the world.
“BU has tremendous resources,” says Emili, “and, given the widespread community support, I think the center can leapfrog ahead and chart out some exciting new terrain to claim and explore. Let’s see what riches this initiative will yield.”