• Lab for Cell Dynamics

    Uncover rhythm of lives for curing human diseases

  • LCD Board

    Thoughts, celebrations, and memories.

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  • Research


    Cells integrate signals in space and time to commit to particular fates such as growth, death and differentiation. During this period, distinct patterns of signaling molecules emerge, resembling the "thinking process" of the cells before final commitment. We seek to understand the nature of cellular decision by characterizing these emergent patterns of signaling molecules and the underlying regulatory principles using systems and synthetic biology approaches. To this end, we are taking quantitative methods including long-term single-cell imaging, genomics and proteomics, mathematical modeling and big data analysis. Our ultimate goal is to gain a systems understanding of cell fate commitment in order to predict and control cellular behavior for better design of therapeutic strategies toward cancers and neurodegenerative diseases.



    What are cells pondering upon?

    Single-cell systems biology

    How cells make a decision is a fundamental and unanswered question. We hypothesize that temporal dynamics of signaling molecules represent cell's "thinking process“. To test this hypothesis, we use long-term time-lapse imaging to quantitatively characterize single-cell behavior (growth, division, death and differentiation) and the corresponding dynamics of signaling molecules. We aim to decode the thinking process of cells in order to control their behavior. Click here to see the behavior of actively growing RPE cells.




    Why do signaling molecules dance?

    Emergent signaling dynamics

    Signaling molecules exhibit diverse temporal and spatial dynamics (click here to see p53 oscillations after gamma-irradiation in a single cell). How do these signaling dynamics emerge from interactions among signaling molecules? What are their functions? We seek to understand the evolutionary origin of signaling dynamics by dissecting their underlying regulatory logic.




    How does metabolic stress influence cancer cells?

    Cancer metabolism

    Compared to normal cells, cancer cells can be particularly sensitive to certain metabolic stresses e.g. amino acid and serum starvation. We are interested in investigating how cancer cells respond to different nutrient starvation conditions and how nutrient status of human body can alter immune response toward cancer cells. Click here to see the kinetics of breast cancer cell killing by NK cells.




    How to design personalized cancer therapies?

    Systems pharmacology

    Cells are not static and can change their state after drug treatments. We aim to incorporate cell dynamics into the design of cancer therapies by

    1. using targeted drugs to identify temporal combinations that yield synergistic effects; 2. developing systematic screening platform to identify targets that function in order and time to kill cancer cells; and 3. integrating system-level information i.e. genomics, proteomics and transcriptomics to identify novel drug targets and potential effective drug combinations. Click here to see temporal changes in drug synergy between two p53-activating drugs.

  • People

    Sheng-hong Chen

    Principal Investigator (Zoology/Artificial Intelligence) shengchen@gate.sinica.edu.tw

    Sheng-hong (Sheng) Chen was born and raised in Taipei, Taiwan. He was an undergraduate at National Taiwan University, where he majored in Zoology and worked with Alex Yu on the population genetics of Mus musculus. After graduation, he went to University of Sussex to do his M.Sc. in Artificial Intelligence. For his thesis project, he worked with Inman Harvey to build an agent-based model to simulate the epidemic dynamics and evolution of the Foot-and-Mouth virus in a small-world network. He then did his Ph.D. at UC San Diego with Huilin Zhou, working on enzymology and quantitative proteomics of the DNA damage checkpoint. He received his Ph.D. in Biological Sciences in 2008 and moved to UC San Francisco and Harvard Medical School for postdoctoral training with Keith Yamamoto and Galit Lahav respectively. During this period, he worked on transcriptional dynamics of glucocorticoid receptor and p53 dynamics in single cells. He began his independent career in the Institute of Molecular Biology at Academia Sinica in 2016.

    Chia-Chou Wu

    Ph.D. Scientist (Biology/Electrical Engineering) ccwu19@gate.sinica.edu.tw

    Chia-Chou Wu received the B.S. degree in life science (2006), the M.S. degree in biotechnology (2008) and the Ph.D. degree in electrical engineering (2016) from National Tsing Hua University, Hsinchu, Taiwan. During his Ph.D., he focused on a variety of biological datasets to understand the underlying mechanisms of various biological behaviors and to develop corresponding analyses for measuring information flow and systematic characteristics of biological systems. After that, he was funded by the Ministry of Science of Technology, Taiwan to conduct his postdoctoral research with Prof. Tom Freeman at the Roslin Institute in the University of Edinburgh. He worked on the melanoma classification based on the gene expression profiles and survival analysis. Now, he is funded by the Academia Sinica to conduct his postdoctoral research with Dr. Sheng-hong Chen. His current research interest is in modeling dynamic systems in cancer cells.

    Feng-Shu Hsieh

    Ph.D. Scientist (Cancer biology/Epigenetics)

    Science should be ‘show me’, not ‘trust me’; it should be ‘help me if you can’, not ‘catch me if you can’. — Philip B. Stark
    Feng-Shu Hsieh was born and raised in Taipei, Taiwan. She received a B.S. degree (2007) in Agricultural Chemistry from National Taiwan University, and pursued her Ph.D. at Dr. Wen-Ming Yang’s lab in the Institute of Molecular Biology, National Chung-Hsing University (2014). She worked with Dr. Yang on molecular mechanism of transcriptional repression. In Dr. Yang’s lab, she found her career passion in scientific research. After graduation, she moved back to Taipei and started her postdoctoral training with Dr. Kuen-Feng Chen in National Taiwan University Hospital. She participated in the basic science team to uncover potential targets of anti-cancer drugs. Now, she is eager to upgrade her knowledge in better understanding of cell behaviors and gain more insights in the better design of therapeutic strategies against cancer.

    Jo-Hsi Huang

    Scientist(Biology/Dynamic Systems)johsihuang@gate.sinica.edu.tw

    “Invention is always born of dissension.”–––– Jean-François Lyotard

    Jo-Hsi was born and raised in Taipei, Taiwan. He received both of his B.S. and M.S. in life science from National Taiwan University. His interest in biology hatched from the mechanistic model of mRNA translation. He worked on post-transcriptional control of gene expression with Dr. Chia-Ying Chu for his undergraduate and master’s studies. During the same period, he also developed an extensive interest in theories of nonlinear dynamics. Currently, he is interested in how the heterogeneities in gene expression and enzymatic activities within clonal population of cells can affect response to stresses. He would like to have a good look at the question with a diachronic horizon and resolution at single cell.


    Ann Mikaela Lynne Ong Co

    Junior Scientist(Biology/Immunology)annmikaela.co@gmail.com

    Mika was born and raised in Manila, Philippines. She recently graduated from the University of the Philippines with a Bachelor’s degree in Molecular Biology and Biotechnology. She is immensely interested in the workings of the immune system, and for her undergraduate research, she studied the T cell response against a candidate vaccine antigen against malaria. Currently, she is looking into how key players in the immune response, metabolism, and DNA damage response interact upon exposure of normal and cancer cells to genotoxic compounds.


    Carolyn Dunlap

    Junior Scientist(Molecular and Cell Biologycarolyn.a.dunlap@gmail.com

    Carolyn has always been interested in many different aspects of biology. Born in California and raised in Austin, Texas USA, she constantly explored and questioned her surroundings. For her undergraduate career, she returned to California to receive her Bachelor's degree in Molecular and Cell Biology. Due to her varying interests, she worked on several different projects including work on immunotherapeutic treatments for cancer, developing disease models in mice, and studying cancer metabolism. Currently, she is excited to dive deeper into metabolism by exploring its outcomes on cell dynamics, in particular with regards to how heterogeneities arise in cell populations under stress.

    Hao-Kuen Lin

    Undergraduate Intern(Medicine/Computationb04401068@ntu.edu.tw

    Hao-Kuen is currently studying at NTU medical school. He is intrigued by the unsolved questions in science and wishes to know it better through bioinformatics. He now focuses on modeling cancer metabolism to identify interesting properties!


    Eclipse Ti LCD

    Single-cell observer (Optics)

    Elipse Ti LCD was born in Japan and raised in Taiwan. She joined LCD in December 2016 and has been spending all of her time observing dynamics of signaling molecules and single-cell behavior. Her current research interest is to find what dynamics encode cellular thoughts after metabolic and anti-cancer drug stresses by direct observation.




  • Publication

    Drug combinations: A review paper on the emerging trend of using the dynamics of biological systems for the rational design of combinatorial therapy. Specifically, we focus how to leverage three properties of signaling networks including 1. single-cell signaling dynamics; 2. signal adaptation and 3. crosstalk among signaling pathways for the rational design of drug combinations.

    Single-cell dynamics: We showed how single cell approach reveals unexpected p53 dynamics and how to use these dynamics to guide the design of time-dependent cancer therapy. This work was featured in Harvard Medical School News, Xinhua News, le monde fr and Wiezmann !

    Transcriptional dynamics: Here we identified the regulatory logic underlying a pulsatile transcriptional activity of glucocorticoid receptor (GR) using systematic and quantitative perturbations of the GR transcriptional system.

    Phospho-proteomics: Kinase-substrate network of the DNA damage checkpoint was mapped using quantitative phospho-proteomics.

    Enzyme kinetics: The DNA damage checkpoint signaling cascade was firstly reconstituted for identifying molecular mechanisms for checkpoint kinase activation.

  • Career

    We are always interested in hearing from motivated junior scientists. Please see the following for potential positions. Most of our projects involve a combination of computational and experimental approaches. They can be carried out by collaborating with people in the lab or by yourself (through reading, thinking and trying!). Passionate scientists with only computational or experimental experience are encouraged to apply. For further information, please contact Sheng!


    There are internship opportunities for high school/undergraduate students all year round (Summer Internship Fellowship available at IMB and NPAS, and TIGP IIP, Winter Internship Fellowship available at LCD). Students interested in quantitative/systems/cancer biology are welcome to contact us for more information about our research projects.

    Graduate Student (Master/PhD)

    We have openings for master and doctoral students. For master students, you can apply through the Genome and Systems Biology at National Taiwan University. For doctoral students, we are part of the Molecular and Cellular Biology, Neuroscience, Bioinformatics and Nano Science and Technology program in the Taiwan International Graduate Program in Academia Sinica. In addition, you can also apply the joint Ph.D. program with National Taiwan University in Genome and Systems Biology.

    Research Assistant

    We have openings for bachelor/master degree level scientists in biology and physics. To apply, send a description of your research experience, and a CV including names of 1-3 references by email with the title “RA Application for LCD” to shengchen@gate.sinica.edu.tw.

    Postdoctoral Fellow

    We are interested in candidates who are

    • Biologists/Medical Doctors with strong background in metabolism/cell biology/cancer biology/immunology.
    • Physicists/Bioinformaticians/Engineers with passion to work on system-level biological questions.

    Applications for postdoctoral positions will be considered on a case-by-case basis. To apply, e-mail a statement of your research accomplishments and interests, and a CV including names of 1-3 references to shengchen@gate.sinica.edu.tw with the header “Postdoctoral Application for LCD”.

    Postdoctoral Fellowship at Academia Sinica: http://daais.sinica.edu.tw/english/pro_pfp.php







    “I do not know what I may appear to the world, but to myself I seem to
    have been only like a boy playing on the seashore, and diverting
    myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier
    shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all
    undiscovered before me.” --- Isaac Newton, 1642-1727




    Richard Feynman ? | Peter Walter ? | Martin A. Schwartz ? | Galit Lahav ? |

    | Uri Alon ? | Bruce Albert ? | Ken Robinson ? | Keith Yamamoto ? | Enrique M. De La Cruz ?






  • Alumni

    Chih-Yao Chung, 2016-2017 Scientist, (Veterinary/Bioengineering), chihyaochung@gmail.com

    Current: Ph.D. student at University College London

    Jeffrey Shu, 2017 LCD Intern, (Molecular and Cell Biology), jeshu@berkeley.edu

    Current: Erasmus Mundus Scholar, International Master in Innovative Medicine

    Qing Chang, 2017/2018 LCD Intern, (Medicine), u104001428@cmu.edu.tw

    Current: M.D. student at China Medical School, Taiwan

    Zhibek Keneskhanova, 2017 LCD Intern, (Biology), zkeneskhanova@nu.edu.kz

    Current: M.Sc. Student at Kazakhstan

    Hsuan-Wu (Patty) Hou, 2017-2018 Scientist, (Biochemistry), p230137@outlook.com

    Current: Ph.D. student in Germany

    Gaurav Agarwal, 2018 LCD Intern, (Chemical Engineering), agarwalgaurav.iitkgp@gmail.com

    Current: B.Sc. student at Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur

    Cheng-Xue Lee, 2018 LCD Intern, (Biology & Engineering), 930leo@gmail.com

    Current: B.Sc. student at National Cheng Kung University

    Hao-Kuen Lin, 2018 LCD Intern, (Medicine), b04401068@ntu.edu.tw

    Current: M.D. student at National Taiwan University

    Jose Sandino Bandonil, 2018 LCD Scientist, (Immunology/Biology), jsbandonil@gmail.com

    Current: Research Assistant at Institute of Molecular Biology, Academia Sinica

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