Combinatorial Responses In Stress Pathways (CRISP)
The CRISP Consortium is a collaboration between Aberdeen University, University of Exeter and Imperial College. CRISP strengthens the close ties between the Centre for Integrative Systems Biology at Imperial College (CISBIC - now CISBIO), the Institute of Medical Sciences and the Institute for Complex Systems and Mathematical Biology at Aberdeen University. CRISP group leaders are listed on the right of the page.
Life on this planet is dependent upon environmental adaptation. Biological systems are constantly subjected to a wide variety of external stimuli and challenges. Many of these change continuously and in order to survive the organism must respond appropriately to each new set of circumstances. It is however difficult for scientists to study such complex perturbations and so typically researchers have focused on one stimulus at a time. Whilst this has yielded major biological insights, to make further progress we need to develop approaches to studying combinations of several simultaneous perturbations. This cannot be done using conventional experimental techniques alone. These need to be supplemented by mathematical and computational modelling methods, which can integrate data from different experiments, reveal hidden patterns, explain apparently contradictory results and suggest new biological hypotheses. This type of interdisciplinary research is called Systems Biology.
CRISP is applying Integrative Systems Biology to understand how pathogenic fungi respond to the combinations of different stresses they encounter when they invade a human host. We are focusing on two major fungal pathogens of humans, Candida albicans and Candida glabrata. These fungi cause frequent oral and vaginal infections (thrush) and life-threatening infections in transplant and cancer patients. When these fungi invade a patient, the immune system normally responds with a variety of defensive counter-measures that are designed to kill them. For Candida albicans and Candida glabrata these defences are essentially equivalent to environmental stresses, and the fungi activate damage limitation strategies. We are studying how these medically important pathogens respond to the combinations of stress they experience in their human host.
The CRISP Consortium is funded by the BBSRC under the Systems Approaches to Biological Research (SABR) Initiative