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Gábor Balázsi, PhD

Present Title & Affiliation

Primary Appointment

Associate Professor, Department of Systems Biology, Division of Cancer Medicine, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX

Dual/Joint/Adjunct Appointment

Regular Member of the Graduate Faculty, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, Houston, TX
Adjunct Professor, Rice University, Houston, TX
Adjunct Professor, Physics, The University of Houston, Houston, TX

Research Interests

We are interested in the mathematical/computational modeling and experimental characterization of biomolecular interaction networks to unravel their role in cellular survival, evolution and development.  

  • Project #1. We study by experiment and computational modeling the combined effect of gene expression noise and regulatory network topology on cell survival and the evolution during drug treatment. Our earlier studies proved that nongenetic variation can aid survival after a single exposure to stress. We are now applying multiple rounds of exposure to stress, or performing long-term laboratory evolution in well-defined conditions to understand how regulatory network topology can optimize cell population fitness, setting the paths of evolution.
  • Project #2. We are designing gene constructs to precisely control the non-genetic, stochastic variation of protein expression levels within a cell population. For example, we can now independently adjust the mean and noise of a target gene's expression in yeast, and we have built a "linearizer" gene circuit that can tune the expression of an arbitrary target gene with unprecedented precision, with low noise and linear dependence on the extracellular inducer concentration.
  • Project #3. We study the response of the large-scale gene regulatory networks of infectious microbes to stress using published microarray data. We identify distinct sets of transcriptional subnetworks that are affected at various times following exposure to stress. These results open the door for a systems-level understanding of the stress response in infectious microbes or cancer cells.

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Education & Training

Degree-Granting Education

2006 Boston University, Boston, MA, Postdoctoral Fellow, Synthetic Biology
2005 Northwestern University, Chicago, IL, Postdoctoral Fellow, Computational Systems Biology
2001 University of Missouri, St. Louis & Rolla, MO, PHD, Physics
1999 University of Missouri, St. Louis, MO, MS, Physics
1996 Babeş-Bolyai University, Cluj, Romania, BS, Physics

Postgraduate Training

1/2004-7/2006 Postdoctoral Research Associate, Boston University, Center for BioDynamics and Dept. of Biomedical Engineering, Boston, MA, Advisor: Dr. James J. Collins
1/2002-12/2004 Postdoctoral Research Associate, Northwestern University, Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, IL, Advisors: Drs. Zoltán N. Oltvai and Albert-László Barabási


Institutional Committee Activities

Member, MD Anderson Postdoctoral Advisory Committee, 9/2009-8/2012

Honors and Awards

2009 Distinguished Alumni Award, Department of Physics & Astronomy, University of Missouri - St. Louis
2009 New Innovator Award, NIH Director's Program

Selected Publications

Peer-Reviewed Original Research Articles

1. Dutta B, Pusztai L, Qi Y, André F, Lazar V, Bianchini G, Ueno N, Agarwal R, Wang B, Shiang CY, Hortobagyi GN, Mills GB, Symmans WF, Balázsi G. A network-based, integrative study to identify core biological pathways that drive breast cancer clinical subtypes. Br J Cancer 106(6):1107-1116, 3/13/2012. e-Pub 2/16/2012. PMCID: PMC3304402.
2. Quan S, Ray JC, Kwota Z, Duong T, Balázsi G, Cooper TF, Monds RD. Adaptive Evolution of the Lactose Utilization Network in Experimentally Evolved Populations of Escherichia coli. PLoS Genet 8(1):e1002444, 1/2012. e-Pub 1/2012. PMCID: PMC3257284.
3. Rohde KH, Veiga DF, Caldwell S, Balázsi G, Russell DG. Linking the Transcriptional Profiles and the Physiological States of Mycobacterium tuberculosis during an Extended Intracellular Infection. PLoS Pathog 8(6):e1002769, 2012. e-Pub 6/2012. PMCID: PMC3380936.
4. Nevozhay D, Adams RM, Van Itallie E, Bennett MR, Balázsi G. Mapping the environmental fitness landscape of a synthetic gene circuit. PLoS Comput Biol 8(4):e1002480, 2012. e-Pub 4/12/2012. PMCID: PMC3325171.
5. Murphy KF, Adams RM, Wang X, Balázsi G, Collins JJ. Tuning and controlling gene expression noise in synthetic gene networks. Nucleic Acids Res 38(8):2712-26, 5/2010. e-Pub 3/2010. PMCID: PMC2860118.
6. Tiwari A, Balázsi G, Gennaro ML, Igoshin OA. The interplay of multiple feedback loops with post-translational kinetics results in bistability of mycobacterial stress response. Phys Biol 7(3):036005, 2010. e-Pub 8/2010. PMID: 20733247.
7. Irimia D, Balázsi G, Agrawal N, Toner M. Adaptive-control model for neutrophil orientation in the direction of chemical gradients. Biophys J 96(10):3897-3916, 5/2009. PMCID: PMC2712156.
8. Nevozhay D, Adams RM, Murphy KF, Josic K, Balázsi G. Negative autoregulation linearizes the dose-response and suppresses the heterogeneity of gene expression. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 106(13):5123-5128,, 3/2009. e-Pub 3/2009. PMCID: PMC2654390.
9. Balázsi G, Heath AP, Shi L, Gennaro ML. The temporal response of the Mycobacterium tuberculosis gene regulatory network during growth arrest. Mol Syst Biol 4:225, 2008. e-Pub 11/2008. PMCID: PMC2600667.
10. Strickler JR, Balázsi G. Planktonic copepods reacting selectively to hydrodynamic disturbances. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci 362(1487):1947-58, 11/2007. PMCID: PMC2442848.
11. Murphy KF, Balázsi G, Collins JJ. Combinatorial promoter design for engineering noisy gene expression. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 104(31):12726-31, 7/2007. e-Pub 7/2007. PMCID: PMC1931564.
12. Blake WJ, Balázsi G, Kohanski MA, Isaacs FJ, Murphy KF, Kuang Y, Cantor CR, Walt DR, Collins JJ. Phenotypic consequences of promoter-mediated transcriptional noise. Mol Cell 24(6):853-65, 12/2006. PMID: 17189188.
13. Balázsi G, Barabási AL, Oltvai ZN. Topological units of environmental signal processing in the transcriptional regulatory network of Escherichia coli. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 102(22):7841-6, 5/2005. e-Pub 5/2005. PMCID: PMC1142363.
14. Karsai I, Balázsi G. Organization of work via a natural substance: regulation of nest construction in social wasps. J Theor Biol 218(4):549-65, 10/2002. PMID: 12384056.
15. Balazsi G, Kish LB, Moss FE. Spatiotemporal Stochastic Resonance and its consequences in neural model systems. Chaos 11(3)(3):563-569, 2001. PMID: 12779493.
16. Balázsi G, Cornell-Bell AH, Neiman A, Moss F. Synchronization of Hyperexcitable Systems with Phase-Repulsive Coupling. Phys. Rev. E 64:041912, 2001.

Invited Articles

1. Balázsi G, van Oudenaarden A, Collins JJ. Cellular decision making and biological noise: from microbes to mammals. Cell 144(6):910-25, 3/18/2011. PMCID: PMC3068611.
2. Veiga DF, Dutta B, Balázsi G. Network inference and network response identification: moving genome-scale data to the next level of biological discovery. Mol Biosyst 6(3):469-80, 3/2010. e-Pub 12/2009. PMCID: PMC3087299.
3. Balázsi G, Collins JJ. Taking the inventory inside single cells, News and Views. Nature Chemical Biology 3(3):141-142, 2007.
4. Balázsi G, Oltvai ZN. Sensing Your Surroundings: How Transcription Regulatory Networks of the Cell Discern Environmental Signals. Sci STKE 2005(282):pe20, 5/2005. PMID: 15870424.

Grant & Contract Support

Title: Rewiring a resource utilization network: mechanistic basis and ecological implications
Funding Source: National Science Foundation (NSF)
Role: Principal Investigator
Duration: 9/1/2010 - 8/31/2014
Title: Mapping and modeling host-pathogen interactions in TB latency and reactivation
Funding Source: NIH/NHLBI
Role: Principal Investigator-MDACC
Duration: 9/1/2010 - 8/31/2014
Title: Feedback regulation and transcriptional coupling in bacterial stress-response
Funding Source: NIH/NIGMS
Role: Co-Investigator
Principal Investigator: Igoshin
Duration: 8/16/2010 - 7/31/2014
Title: Connecting the selection of noisy gene expression deviants to genetic evolution
Funding Source: NIH/NIGMS
Role: Principal Investigator
Duration: 9/30/2009 - 8/31/2014
Title: Synthetic Networks for Precise Gene Expression Control in Mammalian Cell Lines
Funding Source: The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center
Role: Principal Investigator
Duration: 9/1/2009 - 8/31/2010
Title: Pan-European network for the study and clinical management of drug resistant tuberculosis (TB PAN-NET)
Funding Source: European Union Seventh Framework Programme
Role: Site PI
Principal Investigator: Cirillo
Duration: 1/1/2009 - 6/1/2012
Title: Characterization of Gene Expression Patterns of Microenvironment in Metastasized Osteoblastic Prostate Cancer
Funding Source: DOD/Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (DOD/CDMRP)
Role: Co-Investigator
Principal Investigator: Ju-Seog Lee
Duration: 7/28/2008 - 8/27/2010
Title: Model-based predictions of responses to RTK pathway therapies
Funding Source: NIH/NCI
Role: Co-Investigator
Principal Investigator: Gray
Duration: 9/30/2004 - 2/28/2015

Last updated: 4/29/2014