Building the bridge from theory to medical ecology

The Theoretical Biology Group at Mayo Clinic is interested in a broad range of biological phenomena with emphasis on microbiology, ecology and evolution. The focus includes studying how the microbiome influences human health and can be used both as a biomarker and a treatment method. The group also examines the role of collective effects and emergent properties in biological systems. Dr. Chia's team has particular interest in the role of gene transfers and mobile genetic elements, including viruses, transposons and plasmids.

Many problems in microbiology can be insightfully approached from the viewpoint of systems biology. The goal is to better utilize the interface between evolution and systems biology, such as metabolic, protein-protein and regulatory networks. This produces insight into the biology underlying complex diseases, such as cancer or gastrointestinal disorders.

The microbiome has been implicated in a number of diseases, ranging from complex interactions such as those identified in colon cancer and obesity to infectious states such as Clostridium difficile and bacterial vaginosis.