Microbiomes are communities of microorganisms that live on and in people, plants, soil, oceans, and the atmosphere, playing important roles in each ecosystem. Today, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy launched the National Microbiome Initiative, designed to advance the understanding of microbiome behavior and enable the protection of healthy microbiomes. With its Microbes to Biomes program, Berkeley Lab is well positioned to contribute. Both Mary Maxon, Principal Deputy for Biosciences, and Trent Northen, Interim Director of Environmental Genomics & Systems Biology, worked with Eoin Brodie of the Earth & Environmental Sciences Division and other leading scientists to co-author an mBio editorial that calls for a predictive understanding of Earth’s microbiomes to address 21st century challenges in the areas of energy, health, and environment. Read more at the Berkeley Lab News Center.
Scientists at Berkeley Lab and UC Berkeley have developed a way to spatially map gene expression data to determine a cell’s fate. The method could go far in interrogating human tissue organization and helping elucidate key aspects of development, human health and disease. Erwin Frise and Sue Celniker of the Lab’s Environmental Genomics & Systems Biology Division were part of the team that developed this method that speeds discovery of spatial patterns in gene networks. Read more at Berkeley Lab News Center.
Several Biosciences researchers and staff participated in the 2016 East Bay STEM Career Awareness Day on April 27 along with other neighboring East Bay-based businesses, organizations, and professionals. Together, they co-hosted nearly three hundred East Bay high school students from four school districts – Berkeley, Emeryville, Oakland, and Richmond – who took part in this one-day career exploration event at which they were introduced to careers in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). The event took place at Wareham Development’s Aquatic Park Center in West Berkeley, home to the Biosciences Aquatic Park Operations Center and several Biosciences research activities.
On April 21 and 22, 2016, the Department of Energy (DOE) hosted the National Laboratory Big Ideas near Washington, D.C. The Summit was the third annual gathering to elicit large-scale, potentially game-changing ideas from DOE’s 17 national laboratories working collaboratively to tackle the nation’s energy and science challenges. A theme of this year’s Summit was the Presidential Mission Innovation initiative to dramatically accelerate global clean energy innovation to address climate change.
Scientists at the J. Craig Venter Institute have created a stripped-down life form, with a minimal number of genes needed to keep it going. They hope to use it as a platform to create designer life forms, and say it’s already taught some important, and humbling, lessons about the essence of life. Berkeley Lab’s Adam Arkin, Interim Biosciences Deputy for Science, and Samuel Deutsch, DOE Joint Genome Institute, comment on the research in this NBC News story.