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Michael Elowitz, Long Cai, and Chiraj Dalal Find Cells Coordinate Gene Activity with FM Bursts

10-17-08

How a cell achieves the coordinated control of a number of genes at the same time, a process that's necessary for it to regulate its own behavior and development, has long puzzled scientists. Michael Elowitz, assistant professor of biology and applied physics, along with postdoctoral research scholar Long Cai, and graduate student Chiraj Dalal, have discovered a surprising answer. Just as human engineers control devices ranging from dimmer switches to retrorockets using pulsed--or frequency modulated (FM)--signals, cells tune the expression of groups of genes using discrete bursts of activation. [Caltech Press Release]

Tags: APhMS research highlights health Michael Elowitz postdocs

 
Peng Yin Creates DNA Tubes with Programmable Sizes for Nanoscale Manufacturing

09-02-08

Peng Yin, a senior postdoctoral scholar in bioengineering and computer science at IST Center for Biological Circuit Design, along with his colleagues, has designed a series of flexible, single-stranded DNA molecules for nanoscale manufacturing. The group has developed a simple process for mass producing these molecular tubes of identical, and precisely programmable, circumferences. [Caltech Press Release]

Tags: research highlights health Erik Winfree postdocs

Melissa Saenz and Christof Koch Show that Sight Recovery After Blindness Offers New Insights on Brain Reorganization

05-29-08

Studies of the brains of blind persons whose sight was partially restored later in life have produced a compelling example of the brain's ability to adapt to new circumstances and rewire and reconfigure itself. The research, conducted by postdoctoral researcher Melissa Saenz along with Christof Koch, the Lois and Victor Troendle Professor of Cognitive and Behavioral Biology and professor of computation and neural systems, and their colleagues, shows that the part of the brain that processes visual information in normal individuals can be co-opted to respond to both visual and auditory information. [Caltech Press Release]

Tags: EE research highlights health Christof Koch postdocs

Athanassios Siapas and Evgueniy Lubenov Reveal the Driving Factor in the Brain's Self-regulation

04-18-08

Using computer models of neuronal circuits and experiments on live rats, Athanassios Siapas, Assistant Professor of Computation and Neural Systems, and his postdoctoral researcher Evgueniy Lubenov are revealing the curious mechanism by which the brain spontaneously tips itself toward a state balanced between order and chaos. The driving factor in the brain's self-regulation, they say, is the timing of neural pulses. "Networks self-organize to an intermediate state, in between the two extremes," Siapas says.

Tags: EE research highlights health Athanassios Siapas postdocs

Michael Dickinson, Gaby Maimon, and Andrew Straw Reveal Secrets of Common Fruit Fly Decision Making

03-25-08

Using a flight simulator, Michael Dickinson, the Zarem Professor of Bioengineering, and postdoctoral students Gaby Maimon and Andrew Straw, have come closer to understanding what guides the decision making of the common fruit fly as it zips through space. Their experiments were conducted on both free-flying flies and on flies tethered within a virtual-reality flight simulator. In the flight simulator, flies could steer toward or away from images displayed on an electronic panorama. "We can present the fly with different scenes and the fly reacts to them, like a 12-year-old boy playing a video game," says Dickinson. [Caltech Press Release]

Tags: research highlights Michael Dickinson postdocs