What is the Institute of Integrative Biology?

Guest writer Erica Brockmeier introduces a new series of posts featuring our scientists by first giving you an overview of the Institute of Integrative Biology.

liverpool_pier_head

The Three Graces, Liverpool Waterfront

Liverpool is a city famous for its Fab Four, Three Graces, two rival football teams,
and instantly recognisable regional accent. Liverpool is also home to one of the six original ‘red brick’, Victorian-era universities, a university with a history spanning over 200 years. The University of Liverpool is associated with 9 Nobel Prize winners whose academic achievements include a better understanding of malaria and the economics of UK property rights.

However our University is not just an institution focused on its past—it also plays an active part in shaping the future of our city, our community, and the world. Here at the Institute of Integrative Biology (IIB), we’re working for a better understanding of the science of life at all ends of the spectrum. Our scientists study life across all scales, from genes, proteins, cells, animals and even ecosystems. You can think of biology as a ladder, where you start at the lowest rung (genes and proteins) and climb your way to the top (ecosystems). You need each step of the ladder to make it to the top in the same way that we need to study more than one area of biology in order to make progress towards a cleaner and safer world.

Delving into the intricacies of life as we know it isn’t an easy task. That’s why here at IIB, we’ve split up our efforts into four research themes to help us break down these complex systems into parts that we can see and study more clearly:

In the From Genomes to Biological Systems theme, scientists use state-of-the-art technologies to answer questions on how the instructions of life are encoded into the long, complex blueprints known as genomes. Researchers in this theme also work on how we can use knowledge of genes and genomes to address problems related to food security and energy.

Scientists working in the Molecular Basis of Therapeutic Targets theme are investigating how to make more effective drugs by studying how diseases target specific proteins and cells in the body. Members of this group are also working on understanding the differences in people that make some of us more susceptible to diseases (or drugs) than others.

Researchers of the Dynamics and Management of Host-Microbe Interactions study topics ranging from how infection occurs, why some individuals are more affected than others, and how the dynamics of a population can influence how fast a disease spreads.

On the top of biology ladder, our Adaptation to Environmental Change scientists are focused on how groups of animals and plants respond to altered habitats or extreme environmental changes, including global warming. They’re investigating ways to better protect sensitive species and to make sure that the food and materials we need can grow and thrive in a world faced with climate change.

In this blog series, we’ll be talking in-depth about each of our research themes as we highlight the work of four of our IIB scientists. If you’re interested in learning more about IIB and the work we do, be sure to check out our website and stay tuned for our series highlighting the work done here at IIB in the coming weeks!

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