A Little Lab Tackles a Big Question

In 2001, the 20-person Molecular Sciences Institute decided to pool its resources and study a single pathway. Has the decision paid off?

By Edyta Zielinska

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1, while Ian Burbulis, a molecular biologist, looked at enzymatic complexes in Arabidopsis as a means of learning about metabolic pathways2. Mathematician Lok plugged away at a computer modeling program that enabled scientists to enter the rules of protein interactions, rather than writing out each step3. The program, called Moleculizer, uses those simple rules to predict the ways the alpha pathway would respond to environmental changes.

Everyone had wild notions about the future of biology and a different plan about what needed to be done.

The researchers met weekly to discuss their projects. The gatherings had a very "think-tankish" feel to them, says Yu. Burbulis, who joined the lab as a...

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