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Research Initiatives and Units

Biology faculty lead in several campuswide interdisciplinary initiatives that include other on-campus and off-campus units.

These centers create critical research mass well-suited to tackle big research challenges and to jointly propose innovative solutions.

Biomedical Genomics Laboratory (BIOGEM)

BIOGEM is a genomics facility located in the Department of Medicine at UC San Diego. It was established in 2000 to provide spotted cDNA microarray technology to the UC San Diego research community.

Since then, the scope has expanded to include a variety of related services and resources, including next-generation sequencing technology.

The Biomedical Genomics core facility at UC San Diego has been instrumental in providing UCSD investigators access to these technologies. In particular, it has played a key role in enabling our faculty to effectively compete for extramural grant support.

The value of these technologies in discovery research has helped investigators identify signal transduction pathways, uncover new targets for therapeutic intervention, and reveal biomarkers for disease detection, prognosis, and treatment decision-making.



Center for Chronobiology (CCB)

The goal of the Center for Chronobiology (CCB) is to advance leading-edge research in chronobiology (the study of rhythmic/circadian effects on plant, animal and human life) that will have dramatic and lasting effects on improving human health, the environment, and the economy.

Chronobiology is essential to understanding rhythms in physics, computer science, mathematics, engineering, and medicine.

The Center for Chronobiology will make the critical connections across research disciplines that explain fundamental biological principles through a comparison of different species and integration across multiple levels of biological organization in the 4 key research cluster areas of molecular clocks: gene-protein networks, oscillator networks, metabolism, and physiology, as well as sleep, cognition, and behavior.

Campus partners include the Psychiatry, Pharmacy, Psychology, Physics and Bioengineering Departments. CCB is directed by Susan Golden, Division of Biological Sciences, MB Section.

Center for Neural Circuits and Behavior (CNCB)

The Center for Neural Circuits and Behavior is a joint initiative of the Division of Biological Sciences and the Department of Neurosciences in the School of Medicine. The center’s goal is to explore the biology of neural circuits in order to define the elements and processes essential to normal brain function and to elucidate the changes that characterize neurological disorders.

Animal models, microscopic and functional imaging technologies, and behavioral genetics provide unique opportunities for discovery and innovation.

The Kavli Institute for Brain and Mind (KIBM)

KIBM researchers bridge disciplinary boundaries to further understand the origins, evolution, and mechanisms of human cognition, from the brain’s physical and biochemical machinery to the experiences and behaviors we call the mind.

KIBM leverages UC San Diego’s preeminence in fields such as neuroscience, biology, cognitive science, psychology and medicine, along with the extensive resources of the broader La Jolla scientific community, to extend its position as the pacesetter in brain-mind research and education, and as a vibrant hub for dissemination of its discoveries to advance science and benefit humankind.

Campus partners include the Neurobiology Section, the Salk Institute, the School of Medicine, the Department of Philosophy, and the Department of Cognitive Sciences.

KIBM is jointly directed by Nickolas Spitzer (Division of Biological Sciences, Neurobiology Section) and Jeffrey Elman (Division of Social Sciences, Department of Cognitive Sciences).

San Diego Center for Algae Biotechnology (SD-CAB)

The focus of SD-CAB is the sustainable production of liquid transportation fuels from algae to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to provide independence from foreign oil supplies.

UC San Diego has a wealth of expertise in the new fields of systems and synthetic biology that will be harnessed for the production of advanced biofuels from microbes—ultimately providing a roadmap for reduction of the carbon footprint generated by the transportation sector.

Campus partners include: the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Jacobs School of Engineering, Division of Social Science, SSI, CalIT2, as well as other academic and industry partners.

San Diego Center for Systems Biology (SDCSB)

The Center grew out of the San Diego Consortium for Systems Biology started by Amy Kiger (Division of Biological Sciences, CDB Section), and Sumit Chanda (Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute in La Jolla).

SDCSB focuses on interactions involved in cells’ responses to stress. SDCSB researchers plan to analyze interactions among all of the genes and proteins within a cell in response to potentially harmful changes in the environment, and then test the functions of specific genetic "circuits" involved in the response by recreating them in isolation using synthesized genes.

SDCSB will build computational models that describe the networks of interactions involved in the stress response, and then identify promising subsets of that network using simulations based on the model.

To test each newly identified design principle, researchers will construct artificial "circuits" within cells using reporter molecules that reveal dynamic responses to stress.

UC San Diego Natural Reserve System

The UC San Diego Natural Reserve System is part of the University of California Natural Reserve System, a network of protected natural areas throughout California. Its 36 sites encompass approximately 135,000 acres, making it the largest university-administered reserve system in the world.

Most major California ecosystems are represented here, from coastal tide pools to Sierra Nevada forests, and inland deserts to oak woodlands.

Founded in 1965 to provide undisturbed environments for research, education, and public service, the Natural Reserve System contributes to the understanding and wise management of the Earth. David Holway, Division of Biological Sciences (EBE), directs the UC San Diego Natural Reserve System.

UC San Diego Stem Cell Initiative

The Division of Biological Sciences plays a key role in an interdisciplinary, regional effort to advance stem cell research, working in conjunction with other UC San Diego units, the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, the Sanford/Burnham Institute for Medical Research, and The Scripps Research Institute.

UC San Diego has used institutional funds to establish a human embryonic stem cell (ES) core in the Center for Molecular Medicine for experiments on both federally approved and non-approved human ES cell lines.

This core is well equipped to perform tissue culture, microscopic imaging, and basic molecular biology experiments.

Specific areas of investigation include transcriptome and proteome profiling of mouse and human ES cells to identify genes that define the stem cell state, screening for growth factors and small molecules that maintain ES cell self-renewal, generation of ES cells with stem cell reporters, investigation of specific intracellular signaling pathways in ES cell self-renewal, and identification of mechanisms that maintain genetic stability in ES cells.

Additional activities focus on identifying the extracellular and intracellular signals that regulate the directed differentiation of ES cells in contexts including hematopoietic and neuronal cell lineages.

In addition, our adjunct faculty participate in a number of research centers at the Salk Institute. Learn more about Salk Institute Research Centers.