Foundation Invests in Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory to Establish the Simons Center for Quantitative Biology

As massive amounts of rapidly generated biological data become available to researchers for study, new quantitative tools and methods for their analysis must be employed. To that end, the Simons Foundation has awarded $50 million to Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in Laurel Hollow, New York, to establish the Simons Center for Quantitative Biology (SCQB).

Once operational, the center will bring together researchers in applied mathematics, computer science, theoretical physics and engineering to develop these tools. The center will also host research and education programs to teach biologists new approaches and methodologies to best analyze and exploit the increasingly large datasets now appearing in the field.

“Quantitative methods from many branches of mathematics, statistics and physics are rapidly transforming biology,” says Jim Simons, chairman of the Simons Foundation. “We hope and expect that our gift will enable the laboratory to vigorously participate in this transformation.”

Marilyn Simons, president of the Simons Foundation and vice president of the board of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, says the gift is in line with the foundation’s goal of promoting new knowledge by cross-pollinating scientific disciplines. “As with many of our programs, we hope that the pairing of these traditionally separate disciplines will drive new ideas and new science,” says Simons. “Investing in basic science research is key to tomorrow’s advances.”

Members of the new center will interact closely with other Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory scientists and carry out basic research relevant to human diseases such as cancer, autism, bipolar disorder and depression.

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory is one of the world’s leading independent biomedical research institutions, and is one of the first organizations to recognize the essential role of quantitation in the life sciences. It has shaped contemporary biomedical research and education with a wide range of programs and is home to a multidisciplinary scientific community of more than 600 researchers and technicians.

Richard McCombie and Michael Schatz

Richard McCombie, a pioneering gene sequencer, and Michael Schatz, an expert in cloud computing and genome assembly, in the CSHL supercomputing core. Schatz, a member of the SCQB faculty, also focuses on genome validation; sequence alignment; high performance and multicore computing; and parallel algorithms.


The labe of Mickey Atwal.

The lab of Mickey Atwal. Atwal, at far right, is one of the SCQB faculty; his areas of research include population genetics, bioinformatics, cancer, stochastic processes, statistical mechanics and information theory.