Towards Whole-Cell Models of Higher Organisms

Dr. Covert will focus on the most urgent need in whole-cell modeling: to build scalable methods to incorporate complex regulation of gene expression into the whole-cell modeling framework. Gene expression in eukaryotes is incredibly complex and appears at multiple levels (e.g. transcription, modifications, translation, and decay). The proposed work will pursue two parallel approaches - modeling both bacterial and mammalian cells - to drive modeling of gene expression regulation to higher complexity.

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Affiliated Investigators

Markus Covert, Ph.D.

Stanford University

Dr. Markus Covert is currently an Associate Professor at Stanford University. He received a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Brigham Young University, followed by M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Bioengineering from UCSD.  Dr. Covert then completed his postdoctoral studies at Caltech with Dr. David Baltimore.  Leveraging his computational and experimental training, Dr. Covert’s research focuses on integrating cutting-edge computational modeling methods together with experimental techniques to better understand complex cellular behaviors. He is best known for constructing the first “whole-cell” computational model, which explicitly represents all of the known gene functions and molecules in Mycoplasma genitalium. This work was published in Cell, and was reported in The New York Times, BBC World News, Scientific American and hundreds of other media outlets worldwide. The model was also recently cited by Cell as one of the most exciting developments reported during the 40-year history of that journal. In addition, Dr. Covert’s lab has generated several new exciting experimental techniques to measure and analyze the behaviors of individual cells.  Dr. Covert’s work has received several awards, including an NIH Pathway to Independence Award (2007), NIH Director’s Pioneer Award (2009), and the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation Distinguished Investigator Award (2013).