center for systems

& synthetic biology

an NIGMS national systems biology center

The Design Principles of Cellular Networks

At the UCSF Center for Systems & Synthetic Biology, our long-term goal is to achieve a deeper, unified understanding of the design principles of cellular networks.


Our center combines a bottom-up approach of defining the core molecular algorithms that cells use to solve fundamental regulatory problems with the top-down approach of high-throughput mapping of complex networks. To this end, our current aims are to theoretically define design rules of cellular circuits, build synthetic cellular networks, and characterize natural cellular networks and their evolution. We hope to gain a deeper understanding of how cellular networks function, why they are defective in disease, and how to modulate or engineer cells in a therapeutically useful way.


The Center is located in UCSF’s Mission Bay Campus and, through its regular meetings and activities, serves as a nucleus for interdisciplinary and quantitative explorations into the function of biological systems. A core initiative of the Center is the Systems Biology Fellows Program, in which talented young researchers from the quantitative and engineering sciences are recruited to UCSF to foster new and innovative research directions.


Within the UCSF community, the Center organizes numerous educational activities. The Center plays a central role in the IPQB graduate program and the development of hands on approaches to teaching systems biology. We also support the Spanish language and cultural scientific group, CIENCIA. Our Center also leads the UCSF iGEM team, an innovative research/education collaboration that promotes biotechnology programs within the San Francisco Unified School District.