Monday, June 30, 2014

Welcome to the Dynamic Cell Blog

As most of us first learned in High School Biology, life starts with the individual cell-- a self contained microscopic machine. Whether as single celled bacteria, coordinated masses of cells (that we commonly associate as organisms), or populations of interacting cells (societies, ecosystems), the information carried by cells (and the actions carried out by them) underlie our daily experiences on this planet.

How is it possible that such an immense realm of existence can be enabled by such a tiny object? The answer starts with the magic of DNA-- the 3 billion base pair code (in humans) that we all know as the blueprint of life. However, the real miracle lies in the dynamics of the living cell. For you sports fans out there, think of the genetic code as the playbook, and the dynamics as the match. A big reason many of us pay good money and spend inexplicable amounts of time following sporting events is that even when constrained by the same rules, no two matches are the same. In every split-second interval, there are countless small decisions, each affecting and reacting from other players, that ultimately determine the outcome. In this analogy, as in this blog, the premise is that the dynamics define the game. It's what makes biology exciting, and the power to understand and control the dynamic cell will change life as we know it.

The purpose of this blog is primarily to collect, curate, and comment on the advance of scientific and technological breakthroughs in understanding and controlling the dynamics of living biological cells. The associated Twitter feed (@DynamicCell) will provide timely updates on new research, publications, products, and applications relevant to this topic. The authors and contributors to this site are long time enthusiasts in this field, with extensive professional experience at the leading edge of innovation. In general, we will lean towards the application of current breakthroughs to "real-wold problems." The main target audience will be technically knowledgeable, but not necessarily experts on the subject. Given the rapid nature and inherent complexity to this space, we feel that providing well-selected articles and commentary will be an efficient means for the broader research and innovation community to stay current on dynamic cell analysis and the implications of its applications.

As a starting point, you will likely see a number posts around currently hot areas in dynamic cell analysis-- live cell microscopy, predictive in vitro culture methods, biology of the brain, cancer heterogeneity (and personalized treatment), synthetic biology, and new enabling commercial products (hardware, software, wetware). My prediction is that as the field continues to advance, we will see more content on "consumer-level" products and applications in areas such as health monitoring, medical practice, and environmental impact. Our goal is to be agnostic of institutional or commercial biases, and to attempt to report as cleanly as possible the state of the field.

Having spent nearly 15 years investigating the leading edge of dynamic cell analysis, I believe that 2014 is an opportune time to launch this blog. From my perspective, the pace of discovery and emergence of applications has reached an inflection point within the last year. This is driven by the new critical mass of "bioengineering" expertise deployed in the professional ranks, the wealth of fundamental genetic information available to science, the reducing costs of high-end analysis technology, and a renewed push by the research, pharma, and government communities to solve the "hard problems" of biology with applied solutions.

Thank you for visiting. Hopefully, like me, you can't wait to see what the future will bring.


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