University of Minnesota
Institute for Engineering in Medicine

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   Rick Horwitz, Ph.D.
   Executive Director
   Allen Institute for Cell Science
   Seattle, WA
   Next Lecture

   Tuesday, February 23, 2016
   Networking lunch to start at    11:30AM, followed by presentation    12:00PM - 1:00PM

   3rd floor Coffman Memorial Union,
   Mississippi Room

“The Allen Institute for Cell Science: Integrated and multi-scale, spatial-temporal cell biology”

Abstract: A major goal of cell science is to understand and predict cellular behaviors, promising major insights into homeostasis, disease, development and regeneration as well as new approaches to manipulate them. Most cellular behaviors result from the organization of cellular components into discrete functional units, i.e., molecular machines and regulatory complexes, that operate locally and transiently. The localized organization and activity, in turn, arise from the subsets of genes expressed, posttranslational modifications, and the cellular environment, often resulting from the repurposing and specialization of canonical cellular components.

The mission of the Allen Institute for Cell Science is to understand and predict cellular behaviors, taking an integrative approach. The initial project will develop dynamic, visual data on cell organization and activities at multiple spatial and temporal scales, beginning with the mesoscale, using fluorescently tagged, genome-edited, human induced pluripotent stem cells. We will quantify the relative locations and dynamics of the major cellular functional units and activities as the stem cells execute characteristic activities, including differentiation, and in response to perturbations. The goal is a database of dynamic cellular organization and activity at multiple spatial and temporal scales. The focus is on the integrative changes across the cell, rather than a deep focus on a single process. The organizational and dynamic image data will be used with genomic and other information to model cellular organization and its transitions, with an initial goal of predicting cell state, behavior, and pathology from organization.

The quantitative image data will be integrated a visual database, an “animated cell”, which will also serve as an output for computational modeling. The animated cell will be multi-scale, including existing structural data, and useful for fine grained models. It will serve to integrate spatial and temporal information and predictive models of cellular cellular behavior. All data, models, reagents, and tools generated by the Institute will be made publically available.


Rick Horwitz is the inaugural Executive Director of the Allen Institute for Cell Science in Seattle. Previously, he was a University Professor and Harrison Distinguished Professor of Cell Biology at the University of Virginia. He also served as the Director of the Cell Migration Consortium: an NIH-funded multi-institutional, multi-disciplinary collaboration. Previously, he served as the Head of the nascent Department of Cell and Developmental Biology at the University of Illinois and was a Professor of Biophysics and Physical Biochemistry at the University of Pennsylvania. Rick earned his B.A. in the Honors Program at UW Madison, majoring in chemistry (math, physics). He received his Ph.D. in Biophysics at Stanford University and did postdoctoral research in NMR at at UC Berkeley. He has served on numerous strategic planning, editorial and advisory committees and organized several international meetings. Rick is known for his pioneering and leadership roles in cell adhesion, migration, and live-cell imaging.