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MacArthur Fellow Jim Collins and the Center for BioDynamics; Charles Cantor and the Center for Advanced Biotechnology

Week of 14 November 2003· Vol. VII, No. 12
Special Edition: Life Sciences at Boston University

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Strengthening BU's commitment to life Sciences

Provost Dennis D. Berkey Photo by BU Photo Services

By Provost Dennis D. Berkey
Research and teaching in the life sciences — including medicine, dentistry, and biomedical engineering — are increasingly prominent components of Boston University’s mission.


Piecing together the genomic puzzle

Charles DeLisi, Arthur G. B. Metcalf Professor of Science and Engineering and senior associate provost for bioscience, has been instrumental in putting BU at the forefront of genomic research. Photo by Vernon Doucette

By Tim Stoddard
Now that the human genome, that vast trove of genetic information encoded in our DNA, is only a mouse-click away, researchers face the daunting task of figuring out how tens of thousands of genes choreograph the life and death of cells.

Engineering new medical solutions

Tejal Desai, an ENG biomedical engineering associate professor (left), and Joe Tien, an ENG biomedical engineering assistant professor, draw on the basic principles of physics, chemistry, molecular biology, engineering, and computation to achieve a detailed understanding of the complex machinery that supports life processes at the tiniest scales. Photo by Vernon Doucette

By David J. Craig
When Tejal Desai was a Ph.D. student at the University of California, Berkeley, she took on a research project so difficult that colleagues warned her against it, suggesting she might never graduate. But Desai’s determination paid off.

Probing the inner frontiers of memory and the brain

CAS Psychology Professor Howard Eichenbaum directs the Center for Memory and the Brain, an interdisciplinary center that includes researchers in psychology, neuroscience, and biomedical engineering. Photo by Kalman Zabarsky

By Brian Fitzgerald
How does memory work? How do the different parts of the brain function and interact to store and retrieve information? Basic questions such as these have prompted BU scientists to dedicate their careers to understanding how the mind works.

Cancer research at the cellular level

CAS Biology Professor and Department Chairman Geoffrey Cooper worked with recent graduate Rahmat Muhammad (CAS’03) on the regulation of a gene that plays a role in controlling the life cycle of cancer cells. Photo by Kalman Zabarsky

By Brian Fitzgerald
Researchers on both the Charles River Campus and the Medical Campus are probing the causes of cancer, studying its mechanisms, and increasing our understanding of the pathways and the genetic changes in cancer cells — research that is leading to new approaches in prevention and treatment.

Studies of the elderly, aging focus on more than biology

SAR Associate Professor Robert Wagenaar, director of the Center for Neurological Rehabilitation, demonstrates a component of the sophisticated virtual reality system he and his colleagues developed. It is used to investigate the effects of visual stimulation on people with Parkinson’s disease, and to help researchers understand more about the neurological impact of rhythm on the brain. Photo by Kalman Zabarsky

By Brian Fitzgerald
Gerontology and geriatrics are rapidly growing fields today because of the increasing need for professionals knowledgeable about the physical, social, and psychological effects of aging.

Unlocking the secrets of living cells

Selim Ünlü, an ENG professor of electrical and computer engineering (left), Anna Swan, an ENG research assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, and Bennett Goldberg, a CAS professor of physics, share a lab in the Photonics Center, where they conduct interdisciplinary research in nanoscience. Photo by Kalman Zabarsky

By David J. Craig
By developing new microscopy techniques that peer deep inside living cells, an interdisciplinary team of BU scientists and engineers soon could enable medical researchers to better understand the subcellular processes in pathogens such as E. coli, salmonella, and shigella.

Better libraries through chemistry

John Porco (from left), Scott Schaus, and John Snyder are developing a new kind of chemical library at the CAS Center for Chemical Methodology and Library Development. James Panek is not pictured. Photo by Fred Sway

By Tim Stoddard
In the race to churn out new blockbuster drugs, pharmaceutical companies are hitting a wall in the development process. The chemical libraries they use to synthesize complex drugs are fundamentally limited, says John Porco, a CAS assistant professor of chemistry and a MED assistant professor of pharmacology, and the poor selection is stifling innovation.

Training researchers in tech transfer

As vice president of technology commercialization, Robert Ronstadt directs the University’s Technology Commercialization Institute, which helps bring to the marketplace the fruits of groundbreaking research. Photo by Vernon Doucette

By David J. Craig
Boston University researchers regularly create technologies that could help save lives and in other ways benefit society if turned into commercial products.


Dynamic solutions to physiological problems

Charles Cantor, an ENG biomedical engineering professor and a MED pharmacology professor, directs BU’s Center for Advanced Biotechnology, where his research team has developed a DNA-scanning technique that will efficiently and reliably link specific genes with the predisposition to diseases. Photo by Fred Sway

By David J. Craig
Boston University has a tradition of encouraging researchers to cross the boundaries of academic disciplines to solve problems in medicine and biology.

"Fertile mix" key element of Life Science and Engineering Building

The new Life Science and Engineering Building on Cummington Street, scheduled for completion by July 2005, will house faculty from the College of Arts and Sciences departments of biology and chemistry, the College of Engineering department of biomedical engineering, and the University's Bioinformatics Graduate Program. "We'll have a fertile mix of chemists, biologists, and biomedical engineers," says Charles DeLisi, Arthur G Metcalf Professor of Science and Engineering and senior associate provost of bioscience. "The new building is an expression of the vital work that is going on across disciplines at the University, and is designed to facilitate further collaboration among faculty and students from many departments in engineering and the life sciences." Image courtesy of Cannon Design

By Tim Stoddard
In early April 2003, demolition crews cleared away the defunct Nickelodeon Theatre at 24 Cummington St. to make room for the new $84 million Life Science and Engineering Building.

Image of new cancer care building at BMC
New cancer care building at BMC

14 November 2003
Boston University
Office of University Relations