Established in 2009, Beijing Institutes of Life Science, Chinese Academy of Sciences (BIOLS, CAS) aims to address complex biological questions,through cross-institutional integration of multiple disciplines. Under the umbrella of BIOLS, seven institutes of CAS related to biological and biomedical sciences in Beijing, including Institute of Biophysics, Institute of Zoology, Institute of Microbiology, Institute of Genetics and Developmental Biology, Beijing Institute of Genomics, Institute of Botany, and Institute of Psychology, are integrated into the new research organization. The missions of BIOLS are to enhance cutting-edge and cross-disciplinary scientific researches and to establish public platforms to provide services for the seven institutes and beyond. At same time, BIOLS plays an important role in domestic and international academic cooperation.
As a new research organization in CAS, BIOLS has 23 faculty and staff members, including 2 CAS Academicians and 4 “Hundred Talent Program” Principle Investigators. Presently, 21 graduate students are enrolled in the graduate program of BIOLS.
As an interdisciplinary center, BIOLS has established several solid and virtual research centers for developing innovative projects and improving cross-disciplinary researches.
Research centers such as Genomic Center, Computational Biology Center, and Chemical Biology Research Center have been established in BIOLS. These centers are open to all institutes and universities, and provide infrastructural and technical support to facilitate the interdisciplinary cooperation.
Three virtual research centers, namely Research Network of Immunity and Health, Research Network of Global Change Biology, and Research Network of Computational Biology, were set up to address interdisciplinary questions in biomedical and environmental biology. The members of these centers are researchers from different institutes in CAS. To support interdisciplinary research projects within these centers, BIOLS pledges to promote and foster integrative collaborations by providing efficient administration, research funding and vital infrastructure.
In the global perspective, BIOLS is comprehensively pursuing international cooperation and scientific exchanges, focusing on cross-sectional interdisciplinary science research. Several international collaboration centers have been established in the past few years, such as the China-US Research Center for Life Sciences and China-Japan Joint Research Laboratories. Many international conferences and bilateral seminars were held to facilitate international collaboration and foster international affiliations. Presently, many international collaborative projects are in progress.
In addition, BIOLS also promotes translation of original research into biotechnology through encouraging collaboration between research institutes and industry. The Translational Medical Research Center poses as a platform for the cooperation with Beijing Jing-Meng Stem Cell Technology Company to translate the fundamental medical research findings to clinical application. Another interdisciplinary platform, the Research Center for Senses has also cooperated with other notable companies and institutes such as Heng Yuan Xiang (Group) Co. Ltd, Monell Chemical Senses Center of USA, European Chemoreception Research Organization, and the Japanese Association for the Study of Taste and Smell.
To strengthen national and international academic exchanges, BIOLS has also set up several conference platforms, such as Beijing Forum of Life Science, BIOLS Seminars Series and PI Club. Notably, BIOLS jointly manages an international peer-reviewed journal entitled Protein & Cell, which publishes remarkable articles in the biological and biomedical sciences.
Graduate Student Education
BIOLS has graduate programs for M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in genetics, bioinformatics and molecular biology, associated with College of Life Science of the University of Chinese Academy of Sciences. More importantly, BIOLS coordinates all graduate students from the seven institutes and provides an interdisciplinary education for the students. Through offering scholarships and organizing the Graduate Student Union and Graduate Student Forum of Life Science in Beijing, BIOLS provides interdisciplinary training opportunities and encourages scientific cooperation among students from different disciplines and institutes.
Public Equipment Sharing Platform
In addition, Beijing Regional Equipment Center of Life Science has been launched by BIOLS and provides excellent support to the research work in life sciences. This center establishes a public platform to incorporate all major equipments from different institutes, fostering the sharing of research equipments in CAS. Besides, the center also provides funding for technical innovation and offers technical training to students and researchers.
Research scientists in BIOLS are conducting cutting-edge studies such as genomics, structural biology, computational biology, systems biology and evolutionary biology to address fundamental questions in important areas of human health, relationships between environment and organisms, and illness and behavioural problems, etc. Taking advantage of the competent computational biology and genomics platforms, scientists acquire analytical techniques and methods to decipher the intricacy of complex diseases and genetic mutations. Recently, BIOLS achieved two breakthroughs in the field of human immunity and health. The first breakthrough is with respect to the avian influenza H5N1 virus, where scientists revealed structural and biophysical mechanisms of H5N1 virus that are capable of cross-species transmission and airborne transmission between mammals. The second breakthrough was on the study of infectious mechanism of avian-origin human-infecting influenza H7N9 virus. Scientists examined its virus origins, molecular mechanism of cross-species transmission, as well as the epidemiological and immunological patterns of H7N9 genetic variation. These research achievements provide great fundamentals for the development of preventive and therapeutic measures against infectious diseases.