About the OCSSB
What is Systems Biology? What is the OCSSB?The study of medicine is changing from the old reductionist approach of looking at components of systems in isolation—individual cells or chemical pathways, for example—to a more global view of how the body works. The OHSU Center for Spatial Systems Biomedicine was established in 2011 as a joint project between the Knight Cancer Institute and the School of Medicine with this newer approach—called a constructionist, or systems biology approach—in mind.
Facets of the OCSSB
Studies of Complex Systems
The OCSSB enables integrated omic and spatially defined studies of complex systems ranging in size from Angstroms to millimeters. This is accomplished by:
- Developing and acquiring new omic and multiscale analysis technologies and imaging chemistries
- Using these to characterize cancers and other complex biological systems
- Developing new computational methods to visualize and interpret the resulting data.
This requires multidisciplinary teams that the OCSSB has now assembled:
|Biophysicists and biomedical engineers||Develop new measurement platforms|
|Biochemists and biologists||Develop new staining reagents and engineer biological systems with reporter tags to make specific molecular features visible during imaging|
|Image analysts||Manage, display and model multiscale images|
|Computational biologists||Integrate and link omic and image data to identify functional molecular complexes and elucidate their operational behavior|
|Biologists and physician scientists||Develop critical biomedical projects that apply OCSSB capabilities.|
|Business development and intellectual property experts||Develop collaborations with private sector partners, identify and manage intellectual property and support spinoff businesses.|
|Project managers||Define milestones and monitor progress.|
|Administrative support||Manage complex multi-department, multi-institution, public-private sector projects|
Recent Technology Advances
Remarkable recent advances in both omic and imaging technologies enable the multiscale omic/imaging studies that OCSSB investigators undertake. Advances in the field of omics (DNA, RNA and protein profiling) are widely appreciated. Advances in multiscale imaging are less widely appreciated but no less remarkable.
Imaging capabilities now available in the OCSSB allow resolution of features ranging in size from Angstroms to centimeters.
The OCSSB has been developed with a significant focus on cancer. However, the analytical approaches also are being applied in neurobiology, cardiovascular research and immunology. Specific projects in cancer already established focus on elucidation of:
- Omic and multiscale biological architecture changes that enable the genesis and progression of cancer and other diseases
- The influence of omic aberrations on 3D multiscale cellular assemblies with emphasis on receptor tyrosine kinase cascades
- Mechanisms by which cancers escape treatment control
- Interactions between cancer cells and diverse microenvironment interactions that influence progression and therapeutic response
- Novel therapeutic approaches to treatment of drug-resistant advanced cancers.
The OCSSB was funded in two phases. Progress during the initial 3-year phase was reviewed by an external committee comprised of two members of the National Academy of Science and an internationally recognized expert in multiscale imaging. Based on that positive review, the OCSSB funding for recruitment of faculty, instrumentation acquisition and maintenance, support staff, advanced computing and administrative support was continued through 2020. Most OCSSB instruments are available as University Shared Resources through the Multiscale Microscopy Core and the Advanced Light Microscopy Core. The OCSSB is now one of the most comprehensive omic and imaging centers in the world.