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Biodesign and TGen form Joint Center for Systems and Computational Biology

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ASU's Biodesign Institute and the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) have teamed up to establish the Center for Systems and Computational Biology to help usher in a new era of molecular diagnostics and personalized medicine. 

One of the first of its kind in the nation, the center will accelerate the pace of biomedical research, directly impact patient care and provide new funding opportunities for both TGen and ASU.

George Poste, director of the Biodesign Institute, and Jeffrey Trent, president and scientific director of TGen, will oversee the center.

Systems biology combines "wet lab" research with "dry lab" computational technologies to help identify the molecular pathways relevant to disease.

The resulting benefits to medicine may include better clinical trials, personalized therapies and improved diagnostics, drugs and vaccines.

"Much of our focus at Biodesign is in trying to understand biological function and the significance of disease at the most fundamental level: its molecular circuitry," said Poste.

"This knowledge has enormous implications for every aspect of medicine, as well as other fields of science."

"At TGen, our focus is entirely on developing earlier diagnostics and smarter treatments," said Trent.

"This new collaboration leverages the fast-growing field of computational biology to speed research and directly impact patients. Additionally, this partnership opens the door to new research and funding avenues for both TGen and ASU."

"This leading edge Biodesign-TGen partnership will facilitate the acceleration of research in order to develop smarter treatments and targeted therapies tailored to an individual," said Trent.

Poste explains that, despite knowing that diseases and patients are not uniform, medical science is currently unable to tailor therapies to an individual, leading to treatments that are ineffective in some people or cause serious adverse reactions in others.

Annually, over two million people are hospitalized and between 80,000 and 120,000 die from adverse drug reactions.

"This is the most important reason the one-size-fits-all approach to drug treatment cannot continue," said Poste.

"We urgently need the right drug for the right subtype of disease - and the right drug for the right patient. Fulfilling the promise of personalized medicine is dependent upon unraveling this complexity."

The center will open a channel for additional research, funding and economic opportunities for collaboration with industry and other institutions to commercialize platform technologies, license intellectual property, and create spin-off companies.

"We are rapidly moving toward a day when the complete digitization of all biological and medical data will be possible," said Poste.

"In the coming decade, we will be able to capture millions of measurements from just a single drop of blood."

"We are at the very early stages of using systems biology as an important approach to drug discovery and development," said Poste.

"Our ability to make useful measurements has far outpaced our ability to utilize them."

"Biological systems are of such complexity, and the ability to assemble the relevant clinical, biological and biochemical knowledge is a serious barrier to the effective use of this data."