On Tuesday morning, nearly 100 scientists from across the country sat in the West Campus Conference Center’s Grace Hopper Auditorium preparing for a two-day conference celebrating the renovation of the Yale Systems Biology Institute’s space, which will foster interdisciplinary connections between various biological science departments at the University.
The symposia included talks from leading researchers, a poster session for scientists to present their work and tours of the newly renovated building. According to Ryan Croteau, senior administrative assistant at West Campus, the Integrated Science and Technology Center, where the recent renovations happened, was built by Bayer Pharmaceutical Company in the mid-1980s. She added that the building is now in the final stages of a renovation and will house the six faculty research groups of the Systems Biology Institute.
“We hope this is something progressive and a positive interdisciplinary point of excellence for science at Yale,” said Vice President for West Campus Planning and Program Development Scott Strobel.
Director of the Yale Systems Biology Institute Andre Levchenko emphasized the importance of communication between disciplines in working to solve larger biological problems, which will be the main focus of the systems biology team. As the sciences have fragmented and specialization increased, it is crucial to understand what other researchers are working on and considering, he added. The symposia and renovated building work to bridge these divides at Yale and globally by bringing various leaders in their respective fields into one space to talk and collaborate with one another, he said.
The renovated space replaces a now completely gutted chemistry plant, Strobel said. It features a “well-balanced mix” of open laboratories, dedicated support rooms, shared equipment rooms and interactive offices and community space, Croteau said.
During his opening remarks, Levchenko referenced the new collaboration spaces inside the building as an important space to continue the mission of interdisciplinary communication.
Attendees lauded the lineup of speakers, which included entrepreneurs, professors from MIT and Harvard Medical School, as well as professors from British Columbia and Dublin.
Molecular, cellular and developmental biology professor Joseph Wolenski said all speakers present at the conference are among “an elite group” of scientists who focus on larger problems in personalized medicine and utilization of genomic information to prevent and cure disease.
In his talk, Harvard professor of genetics George Church showed, using a gene editing system, that a genetic mutation in a mouse can be corrected and wild-type phenotype restored.
University President Peter Salovey attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony at 11 a.m. on Wednesday.