In recent years, the field of molecular biology has moved away from the study of individual components and toward the study of how they interact, creating a “systemic” approach that seeks an appropriate and quantitative description of cells and organisms. Dr. Leibler’s laboratory is developing both the theoretical and experimental methods necessary for conducting studies on the collective behavior of biomolecules, cells, and organisms. By selecting a number of basic questions on how simple genetic and biochemical networks function in bacteria, his lab is beginning to understand how individual components can give rise to complex, collective phenomena.
Recent research topics in the laboratory include quantitative studies of interacting microorganisms. In particular, the question of the survival of microbial populations in varying environments is being addressed both experimentally and theoretically. Dr. Leibler and his collaborators are developing new experimental techniques that will facilitate quantitative analysis of long-time population dynamics in microbial populations. Long-term dynamics of closed microbial ecosystems are being analyzed by statistical methods. Theoretical approaches are also applied to other problems, such as protein assemblies or evolution of protein families.