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Convergent Revolution: Evolutionary Systems Biology

Convergent Revolution
Reported by
Don Monroe

Posted August 13, 2008

Evolutionary theory and systems biology have both transformed the understanding of biology, the first over many decades and the second more recently. A July 1, 2008, symposium sponsored by the Systems Biology Discussion Group illuminated what these fields have to offer each other by highlighting research in evolutionary systems biology.

Aviv Bergman presented work showing that the biological networks that emerge during evolution have special properties, including a high degree of robustness against external and internal variability. Morphological variation in knockout yeast, analyzed by Mark Siegel's lab, revealed hundreds of "phenotypic capacitor" genes that unleash variation when they are impaired. Franziska Michor showed that the time response to chemotherapy for chronic myeloid leukemia suggests that a subpopulation of cells consisting of cancer stem cells evades the treatment.

Journal Articles

Aviv Bergman

Belbin TJ, Bergman A, Brandwein-Gensler M, et al. 2007. Head and neck cancer: reduce and integrate for optimal outcome. Cytogenet. Genome Res. 118: 92-109.

Bergman A, Atzmon G, Ye K, et al. 2007. Buffering mechanisms in aging: a systems approach toward uncovering the genetic component of aging. PLoS Comput. Biol. 3: e170. Full Text

MacCarthy T, Bergman A. 2007. The limits of subfunctionalization. BMC Evol. Biol. 7: 213. Full Text

MacCarthy T, Bergman A. 2007. Coevolution of robustness, epistasis, and recombination favors asexual reproduction. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 104: 12801-12806. Full Text>

Mark Siegal

Bergman A, Siegal ML. 2003. Evolutionary capacitance as a general feature of complex gene networks. Nature 424: 549-552.

Levy SF, Siegal ML. 2008. Network hubs buffer environmental variation in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. PLoS Biology 6:e264.

Ohya Y, Sese J, Yukawa M, et al. 2005. High-dimensional and large-scale phenotyping of yeast mutants. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 102: 19015-19020. Full Text

Rutherford SL, Lindquist S. 1998. Hsp90 as a capacitor for morphological evolution. Nature 396: 336-342.

Siegal ML, Bergman A. 2002. Waddington's canalization revisited: developmental stability and evolution. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 99:10528-10532. Full Text

Siegal ML, Promislow DE, Bergman A. 2007. Functional and evolutionary inference in gene networks: does topology matter? Genetica 129: 83-103.

Franziska Michor

Abbott LH, Michor F. 2006. Mathematical models of targeted cancer therapy. Br. J. Cancer. 95:1136-1141. (PDF, 198 KB) Full Text

Iwasa Y, Nowak MA, Michor F. 2006. Evolution of resistance during clonal expansion. Genetics 172: 2557-2566. Full Text

Michor F, Hughes TP, Iwasa Y, et al. 2005. Dynamics of chronic myeloid leukaemia. Nature 435: 1267-1270.

Michor F, Iwasa Y, Nowak MA. 2006. The age incidence of chronic myeloid leukemia can be explained by a one-mutation model. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 103: 14931-14934. Full Text


Aviv Bergman, PhD

Albert Einstein College of Medicine
e-mail | web site | publications

Aviv Bergman is founding professor and university chairman at the newly created Department of Systems and Computational Biology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Bergman began his career at Einstein in July 2004 and served as a professor in the Departments of Pathology and Neuroscience. Prior to that he was at Stanford University, where he was founder and co-director of the Center for Computational Genetics and Biological Modeling as well as the founder and director of the Center for Integrative Research in Science and the Humanities. Bergman studied physics in Israel and received a PhD in biological sciences from Stanford University.

Mark L. Siegal, PhD

New York University
e-mail | web site | publications

Mark Siegal is an assistant professor in the Department of Biology at the Center for Genomics and Systems Biology at New York University. Siegal received his PhD in biology from Harvard University in 1998. He was a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University.

Franziska Michor, PhD

Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
e-mail | web site | publications

Franziska Michor is an assistant member of the Computational Biology Program at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. Michor studied molecular biology and mathematics at the University of Vienna, Austria, and medical biotechnology at the Università degli Studi di Trieste, Italy. She received her PhD from Harvard University's Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology in 2005. Afterwards, she was a junior fellow in the Harvard Society of Fellows and worked at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. In 2007, she joined the research faculty at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. Her lab investigates the evolutionary dynamics of cancer.