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One of the defining features of living organisms is their astonishing complexity. Even seemingly simple single cell organisms such as microbes display exceedingly complex behaviors, determined by intricate molecular networks in which large numbers of molecular components, pathways and chemical reactions act together. These behaviors have fascinated scientists for decades and include development, response to pathogenic and environmental insults and interactions with other organisms. Understanding how complexity of living systems arises and coordinates cellular function and pathologies continues to be one of the principal goals of biomedical research today.

The Department of Systems Biology (DSB) studies how biological complexity can be derived and understood from the interplay between individual components and processes that combine to make up living organisms.

The department brings together an enthusiastic and highly collaborative group of scientists that employ an array of experimental and computational approaches to study a variety of biological systems. Research in the program ranges from quantitative studies of properties of single cells to analyses of complex phenotypes of animals, and leverages the latest technological developments in the areas of molecular biology, genomics, high-content imaging, quantitative modeling, computer science and bioinformatics. The commonality of all research in the program is the integration of high-throughput experimentation and quantitative data analyses to study how biological systems behave, respond, adapt and evolve. Disease states are increasingly considered to be caused not by a singular biochemical alteration, but instead are viewed as the result of wider disruptions of the complex interplay between the many molecular components and processes that make up the human body. Researchers in the program aim to unravel how systems go awry in a variety of pathologies and how systems can be perturbed to mitigate disease.

Latest News

Congratulations to Mike Lee who was awarded a NIH R21 grant!
"Characterization of drug mechanisms of lethality in vivo"
Read more about research in the Lee Lab here.
Welcome Summer Students!
DSB Summer Research Program Students
Abigail Costa (Ithaca College) - Mitchell Lab
Astrid Johnson (Smith College) -      Lee Lab
Damisi Kayode (Townson University) -  Dekker Lab
Melina Lian (USC) - Brewster Lab
Kayvon Touserkani (UMass Amherst) - Walhout Lab
Daniel Twohig-Mann (UMass Amherst) Walhout Lab
Christine Yuan (Purdue University) -  Shank Lab
Summer Interns
Keona Burch (High School Student) - Mitchell Lab
Lelah Delbou (WPI) - Watson Lab

Welcome to Qi Liu, a new postdoc in the Youk Lab!

Learn more about Qi here.


Mariana Noto Guillen, a PhD candidate in Amir Mitchell’s lab, highlights her work and work from the lab to understand how non-antibiotic drugs kill bacteria in this article in The Conversation.

Drugs that aren’t antibiotics can also kill bacteria − new method pinpoints how

“Our findings open multiple opportunities for researchers to study how nonantibiotic drugs work differently from standard antibiotics. Our method of mapping and testing drugs also has the potential to address a critical bottleneck in developing antibiotics.”


Welcome New Rotation Students!

Yi-Hsuan Hsieh (Watson Lab)
Joseph Paquette (Lee Lab)
Hannah Rogers (Brewster Lab)
John Solitro (Walhout Lab)                                                                                                                                    

Emma Watson has been awarded a Young Investigator Grant from The Breast Cancer Alliance. Congratulations Emma!

Read more about research in the Watson Lab here.


Welcome to Nicholas Genovese who recently joined the Youk Lab as their newest Research Associate! 

Read more about Nicholas here


Welcome Back to:

Megan Honeywell - current position Post doc in the Lee Lab
Serkan Sayin - current position Post doc in the Mitchell Lab
Sunil Guharajan - current position Research Associate in the Brewster Lab

Welcome to rotation students, Naoto Hikawa (Walhout Lab) and Run Sun (Dekker Lab)!  

Jan, 2024

Mike Lee has been named the first Vice Chair of the Department of Systems Biology  


Nov, 2023

The DSB congratulates Nick Harper who was awarded a Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award Individual Predoctoral Fellowship from the National Cancer Institute to study mechanisms of cell death upon transcriptional inhibition. Read more about Nick and his research here.  


Sept, 2023

The Department of Systems Biology Welcomes Ann Xu a new Research Technician in the Youk Lab  

Aug, 2023

Elizabeth Shank recently contributed to this Nature Medicine News article about antibiotic resistance. Read the full article here.


Congratulations to Job Dekker on his induction into the National Academy of Sciences on April 28, 2023.


The Department of Systems Biology Welcomes new Postdoc Arun Kumar to the Walhout Lab  

May, 2023

Listen as Job Dekker talks about the 3D genome organization of Dinoflagellates and more.

From Tachnau & Weis, Evodevo. 2013

The DSB Welcomes Our New Rotation Students

Hanbing Cao (Dekker Lab)
Christopher Jahns (Shank Lab)
Arshia Kaur (Shank Lab)
Claudia Perez (Watson Lab)
Alejandra Rivera Nieves (Watson Lab)

Congratulations to Job Dekker on his induction into the National Academy of Medicine on October 14, 2022. Please watch the short video below to see him receive this honor!

Marian and Job
Marian and Job

Two new Research Technicians have joined The Watson Lab. Please welcome Rayna Magesh and Abdulrazak Frederick to the DSB. Click here to learn more about them.


The Department of Systems Biology Welcomes Emma Watson as the Newest Faculty Member

September 26, 2022

Emma Watson, PhD
Emma Watson, PhD

Cancer Chromosome Genetics
What are the functional consequences of chromosomal abnormalities in cancer? Over 90% of tumors are aneuploid, with ploidy ranges from sub-2N to more than 4N. Moreover, tumor-associated chromosomal abnormalities are tissue-specific and often highly recurrent. 


Marian Walhout, PhD, was Awarded the Chancellor's Medal for Distinguished Scholarship

September 15, 2022

By Pat Sargent
UMass Chan Medical School Communications
The 2022 Chancellor’s medal recipients with Chancellor Collins. Left to right are Ira Ockene, MD; Marian Walhout, PhD; Collins; Melissa Fischer, MD; and Deborah DeMarco, MD.
The 2022 Chancellor’s medal recipients with Chancellor Collins. Left to right are Ira Ockene, MD; Marian Walhout, PhD; Collins; Melissa Fischer, MD; and Deborah DeMarco, MD.

Marian Walhout, PhD, the Maroun Semaan Chair in Biomedical Research and chair and professor of systems biology, was awarded the Chancellor’s Medal for Distinguished Scholarship.

Collins said Dr. Walhout is “known as a most respected member of our scientific community, as a dedicated mentor and an inspiring role model for women in science.”

This is most fitting for one who has made such a major impact on science and our community,” Collins said.

»Read More


Congratulations to Elizabeth Shank

September 16, 2022

Elizabeth Shank, PhD
Elizabeth Shank, PhD

Congratulations to Elizabeth Shank, PhD, for receiving a MIRA award titled “Investigating the molecules and mechanisms of bacterial cell-cell interactions". 


Congratulations to Job Dekker

August 08, 2022

Job Dekker, PhD

Congratulations to Job Dekker, PhD, for receiving a supplement to his NIH UM1 project titled “4D nucleome studies in a mouse progeria early-onset aging model before and after somatic genetic correction in tissues and cells.” 

This is a joint project with another UM1 investigator, Dr. Robert Goldman of Northwestern as well as the Somatic Genome Editing Consortium (Dr. David Liu, Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT & Dr. Francis Collins, NIH) and the Cellular Senescence Network (Dr. Nicola Neretti, Brown University & Dr. Jian Ma, Carnegie Mellon Institute)


Congratulations to Hyun Youk 

August 01, 2022

Hyun Youk, PhD
Hyun Youk, PhD

Congratulations to Hyun Youk, PhD for a new NIH MIRA Award: "Dynamics in Eukaryotic Dormancy: Gene Expression and Aging". 


The Mitchell Lab Welcomes Jacob Furman as an Intern

July 25, 2022

The Department of Systems Biology Welcomes Alyxandra Starbard to the Walhout lab as a Research Lab Tech

June, 2022

The Department of Systems Biology Welcomes Elodie Killick to the Brewster Lab as an Undergraduate Intern 


Congratulations to Amir Mitchell, PhD on Receiving a new RO1 Award:

“Mechanisms underlying bacterial sensitivity to host-targeted drugs” from the NIH National Institute Of Allergy And Infectious Diseases.

June, 2022

The Department of Systems Biology Welcomes Nezar Abdennur, PhD

June, 2022

The Department of Systems Biology Welcomes Juliet Bolduc to the Walhout lab as an Undergraduate Intern

May, 2022

The Department of Systems Biology Welcomes Daniel Richards to the Walhout Lab as a Research Associate 

May, 2022

The Department of Systems Biology Welcomes a Scientific Writer, Caryn Navarro

May, 2022

Job Dekker elected to National Academy of Sciences

By Colleen Locke
UMass Chan Medical School Communications

May 04, 2022

Job Dekker, PhD
UMass Chan Medical School scientist Job Dekker, PhD, was elected to the National Academy of Sciences on May 3 for his contributions to the field of genomics.
Dr. Dekker, Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, the Joseph J. Byrne Chair in Biomedical Research, professor of biochemistry & molecular pharmacology and systems biology, is one of 120 newly elected members.

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