Friday, July 18, 2014

Juan C. Lasheras Joins NIH MABS Study Section

Distinguished Professor Juan C. Lasheras from UC San Diego has accepted an invitation from the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) to serve as a member of the Modeling and Analysis of Biological Systems Study Section, which reviews grant applications for scientific merit as a part of the NIH Center for Scientific Review.

The Modeling and Analysis of Biological Systems Study Section (MABS) reviews NIH grant applications concerned with the development of modeling / enabling technologies for understanding the complexity of biological systems. The scope of these systems ranges from molecular, to supra-molecular, to genes, to organelles, to cellular, to tissue and to organ level studies.

In March 2014, Lasheras and a team of biologists and engineers from UC San Diego published a paper in the Journal of Cell Biology (JCB) in which they reported their discovery that white blood cells move to inflamed sites by walking in a stepwise manner. The cells, the researchers found, periodically form and break adhesions mainly under two “feet,” and generate the traction forces that propel them forward by the coordinated action of contractile proteins.

Their discovery, which was highlighted on the cover of the March 17 issue of JCB, is an important advance toward developing new pharmacological strategies to treat chronic inflammatory diseases such as arthritis, irritable bowel syndrome, Type 1 diabetes, and multiple sclerosis.

Modeling and Analysis of Biological Systems

Tools developed by grants funded by the NIH Modeling and Analysis of Biological Systems study section are characteristically applied to further understanding of interactions and integrations through levels and scales and the emergence of patterns that help to explain system behavior.

Members are selected on the basis of their demonstrated competence and achievement in their scientific discipline as evidenced by the quality of research accomplishments, publications in scientific journals, and other significant scientific activities, achievements and honors. 

Professor Lasheras, for example, holds the Stanford S. & Beverly P. Penner Professor in Engineering or Applied Science endowed chair at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering. A member of the National Academy of Engineering, Lasheras is a faculty member in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at the Jacobs School.

Professor Lashers serves as Director of the Center for Medical Devices and Technology, part of the Institute for Engineering in Medicine at UC San Diego. He is a Faculty Director of the Medical Device Engineering executive master’s degree program at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering.

Lasheras joins UC San Diego bioengineering professor Andrew McCulloch on the 16-person Modeling and Analysis of Biological Systems Study Section. UC San Diego is the only university with more than one professor on this NIH study section. 

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