Department of Systems Biology

The Department of Systems Biology aims to understand the complex biological systems involved in signal transduction and in the transcriptional, epigenetic and metabolic regulation of cancers, especially hematological malignancies including leukemia and lymphoma. We investigate how RNA/DNA/histone modification, RNA splicing, RNA metabolism, noncoding RNA, post-translational modification including glycosylation, chromosomal changes, and the immune microenvironment regulate cancer initiation, progression, maintenance, drug response/resistance, metastasis and relapse. We apply leading-edge Systems Biology technologies such as single-cell sequencing, genome-wide CRISPR screening, metabolic profiling, mass spectrometry profiling, mass cytometry (CyTOF), and a series of next-generation sequencing-based approaches to generate genomic, (epi)transcriptomic, proteomic and metabolic data. Such data, coupled with clinical information and genetic mouse model studies, enable us achieve a systematic and comprehensive understanding of the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying cancer pathogenesis, cancer metabolism, tumor immunology and tumor microenvironment. By better understanding cancer biology through Systems Biology approaches, we are dedicated to identifying novel therapeutic targets and developing improved diagnostic, prognostic and therapeutic tools for cancer prevention, intervention and therapy.
The Department of Systems Biology was established in January 2017 under the leadership of Markus Müschen, M.D., Ph.D., who joined Beckman Research Institute of City of Hope as founding chair of the department and The Norman and Sadie Lee Foundation Professor in Pediatrics. Dr. Müschen is a world-class expert in study of oncogenic signaling and clonal evolution in B cell malignancies, and is also a Faculty Scholar of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and a National Cancer Institute Outstanding Investigator Award (R35) recipient. Jianjun Chen, Ph.D. succeeded Dr. Müschen as the department chair in August 2020. Dr. Chen is an internationally renowned pioneer and expert in the field of RNA cancer epigenetics or RNA cancer epitranscriptomics. Dr. Chen is the Simms/Mann Family Foundation Chair in Systems Biology and a Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) Scholar.
The Department of Systems Biology is composed of a dynamic and collaborative group of 11 research faculty and 40 postdoctoral fellows, staff scientists and research associates and is supported by an annual budget of nearly $5 million in research grants from the National Institutes of Health, the LLS and other funding agencies. The research groups are housed in a 16,000-square-foot building in City of Hope’s new Biomedical Research Center in Monrovia, California. The facility features state-of-the-art flow cytometry, imaging, metabolomics and proteomic capabilities, and is also home to the Division of Epigenetic and Transcriptional Engineering in the Department of Systems Biology.