Research Overview

The BioCircuits Institute (BCI) focuses on understanding the dynamic properties of biological regulatory circuits that control their homeostasis and signal responsiveness. These circuits span the scales of biology, from intracellular regulatory modules to neurobiological intercellular networks, to population dynamics and organ function. The mission of the BCI is the development and experimental validation of theoretical and computational models to understand, predict, and control complex biological functions, and implementation of these functions in practical engineering solutions.

Neural Circuits

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Neural circuits play the key role in perception and processing of sensory information, and underlie cognition, emotions, and behavior of animals. They can help us understand how the principal elements of the nervous system, interactions between neurons and glia and spatio-temporal synaptic processing of information execute computational tasks, integrate and fuse multiple inputs and generate complex outputs. The focus of the Neural Circuits group is on creation of coarse-grained dynamical models of sensory and mental functions based on the general principles such as competition for the energy and informational resources, robustness and sensitivity to environment information.

Cell Signaling Circuits

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Biological signaling networks have evolved to provide appropriate dynamic control in response to external stimuli. They also monitor cellular health and the activity of other signaling systems in order to determine the appropriate cellular response. The focus of the Cell Signaling Circuits group is to mechanistically characterize the emergent properties of signaling behavior and to develop a predictive signaling circuit theory.

Gene Regulatory Circuits

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Gene regulatory circuits govern life-sustaining biological functions such as cell division, metabolic processing, and stress defense. The development of a comprehensive description of cellular function in healthy and diseased states will require a precise quantitative understanding of the dynamics of the underlying interactions. The focus of the Gene Regulatory Circuits group is the development and experimental validation of computational models with predictive capabilities that can be used to understand the complexities of gene regulation.

Biomimetic Circuits

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Biomimetic Circuits can bridge the gap between biology and engineering, which can lead to biomimetic devices with applicability to neural control, man-machine interfaces, prosthetics, autonomous robots, etc. The focus of the Biomimetic Circuits group includes design of complex networks that emulate the quantitative and statistical structure of biological neural networks, development of biomimetic algorithms for detecting and locating odors in noisy environments, rational design of synthetic genetic circuits, as well as development of innovative experimental and computational tools for studies of biological circuits.