ICOB investigates basic mechanisms by which cellular functions and cell-cell interactions coordinate the growth and development of an organism, and its adaptation to an ever-changing environment.Current research at ICOB comprises four focus areas:(1) Cellular dysfunction, (2) Eco-Evo-Devo, (3) Neuroscience, (4) Stem cell and regenerative biology. These areas are complementary rather than mutually exclusive, which encourages cross-disciplinary research.
- Cellular Dysfunction： This research aims to understand the molecular basis of cellular function and dysfunction, and as such, it covers a diverse set of projects at ICOB. Projects include: development of human antibody drugs; targeted delivery systems for cancer therapies and molecular imaging; antimicrobial peptide-based marine biotechnology and biomedical agents; mechanisms underlying fish nervous necrosis virus-mediated suppression of host cell protein translation; regulation of gamma-secretase in Alzheimer's disease; mitotic regulation and responses to aberrant mitosis; epigenetic regulation of DNA replication; genome integrity and cellular metabolism; and the mechanisms underlying correlations between cellular ultra-structure and functions.
- Eco-Evo-Devo： ICOB investigators in this area aim to understand the form, function, response and performance of animals at various levels of organization – from genes to organisms. Particular interests include: elucidating the developmental mechanisms that direct the formation of major body plans in both vertebrate and invertebrate animals; investigating the underlying genetic changes responsible for the emergence of developmental novelties; physiological and functional genomic techniques to understand the regulation of body homeostasis; and addressing how aquatic animals are affected by environmental and climatic changes. Research approaches for these projects utilize traditional model systems (fruit fly, zebrafish and mouse) as well as a wide variety of emerging animal models (insects, cephalopods, annelids, echinoderms, hemichordates, cephalochordates, goldfish and medaka), enabling cross-species comparative studies to gain new evolutionary insights.
- Neuroscience：To understand how brains function, ICOB investigators use model systems (Drosophila and mouse) to study neuronal specification, neuronal circuit assembly, and mechanisms of neurodegenerative disease. Molecular, genetic, imaging and physiological approaches, as well as modeling and behavioral assays, are combined to study how distinct neurons connect to each other in order to establish neuronal circuits in physiological and pathological states. Studies in this research area contribute to the understandings of how the complicated nervous system develops and operates, as well as how dysfunction in neural circuits causes neurodevelopmental or neurodegenerative diseases.
- Stem cell and regenerative biology：this research area encompasses: basic mechanisms governing stem cell pluripotency maintenance and reprogramming; translational application of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) for disease modeling; stem cell maintenance and differentiation in tissue development; the role of stem cells in disease and aging in mice models; aging in Drosophila germline stem cells; and zebrafish fin regeneration. Further understanding of stem cell properties and the processes governing organ/tissue regeneration may provide the essential foundations for novel medical interventions for human diseases.
Major Research Contributions
ICOB supports aquabiology and marine biotechnology research in Taiwan, and promotes the use of zebrafish as a valuable model system for biomedical research nationwide. Researchers in the institute have also embraced the post-genomics era by initiating systems studies into gene regulatory network control of whole organism growth and development. Additionally, the development of targeted drug delivery systems by ICOB investigators was recently heralded as a key breakthrough in cancer therapy. These academic achievements have been highlighted by prestigious research awards to ICOB investigators and publications in high-impact journals, ICOB aspires to reach the highest standards of academic performance.