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 hematological malignancies, leukemia and lymphoma. By integrating data on signal transduction, transcriptional and metabolic activity at the single-cell level with clinical information and drug-resistance profiles from clinical trials, our computational analyses can extract features of drug-resistance and relapse in leukemia and lymphoma based on machine learning tools that are commonly used in face recognition systems.
The Department of Systems Biology was established in 2017 under the leadership of Markus Müschen, M.D., Ph.D., who joined the Beckman Research Institute of City of Hope as founding Chair of the department and The Norman and Sadie Lee Foundation Professor in Pediatrics. Müschen’s group is mainly interested in oncogenic signaling in B cell leukemia and B cell lymphoma, relative to normal mechanisms of B lymphocyte development. Reflecting the translational focus of his research on diagnosis and treatment of B cell lineage acute lymphoblastic leukemia, the most frequent type of cancer in children, Müschen also serves as the associate director of basic science of City of Hope's National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated comprehensive cancer center. Müschen is a Faculty Scholar of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and his research is supported in part by an NCI Outstanding Investigator Award.
The Department of Systems Biology includes 13 research faculty and 80 postdoctoral fellows, staff scientists and research associates and is supported by an annual budget of $7 million in research grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM). 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.
With a focus on hematological malignancies, primary research interests of the department include oncogenic B cell receptor signaling in B-lineage leukemia and lymphoma, molecular genetics of B cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia, genetic engineering of epigenetic writers and erasers in MLL-rearranged leukemias, noncoding RNAs and RNA-modifications in malignant transformation of leukemia and lymphoma, feedback control of oncogenic signaling in B cell malignancies, and metabolic control of clonal selection and evolutionary fitness in heterogeneous leukemia and lymphoma populations.