Faculty Assistant: Meghan Van Orden
The complexity and heterogeneity of biological systems are formidable obstacles that must be overcome for achieving a more quantitative and predictive understanding of physiology and phenotypes on the cellular or organism scale. Such a level of understanding has remained largely elusive in biology, despite the extraordinary level of detail to which molecular interactions have been characterized over the past decades, as it often remains unclear how to harness detailed molecular knowledge to achieve this goal.
In our lab, we try to tackle these challenges by identifying phenotypic patterns that can guide us in decoding the underlying molecular mechanisms and principles, which govern the behavior of complex biological systems. Our approach relies on the close coordination and mutual feedback between experimental and theoretical efforts and we combine careful characterization of physiology, genetic perturbations, omics technology and theoretical models.
Fundamental biological questions that we are interested in include the role of metabolic strategies during growth and adaptation, tradeoffs between competing evolutionary objectives of microorganisms and how cells achieve homeostasis of cell size, cell number and cellular composition, as well as the breakdown of these mechanisms in disease. We use the well-characterized model organismsEscherichia coli and Drosophila melanogaster to address such questions.
About Markus: After undergraduate studies in physics at ETH Zurich and Harvard University, Markus obtained a PhD in theoretical physics working with Jean-Francois Joanny and Jacques Prost at the Curie Institute. He went on to do postdoctoral studies in the labs of Terry Hwa at the University of California at San Diego and Uwe Sauer at ETH Zurich before joining the Department of Systems Biology at Harvard Medical School.