Professor Alan Moses of Cell & Systems Biology is at the forefront of data science in cracking the lingering mysteries underlying the function of protein molecules. He has been renewed for his position as Canada Research Chair (CRC), recognizing that he will be leading further advances in his field.

The Moses laboratory is working to decrypt the pattern behind the enigmatic “intrinsically disordered” regions (IDR) within proteins. The shape of many protein molecules is known, even down to the coils and sheets of individual regions. However, IDR resist structural analysis and prediction as they contain no set sequence of amino acids. IDR are widespread and, when mutated, can be involved in human disease.

Moses’ lab makes testable predictions about the function of residues within IDR by examining the overall qualities retained by these regions during evolution. In systems biology experiments that validate these predictions, they study the role of IDR in transduction of signals from outside the cell to the genes inside the nucleus of the cell. This has led to development of further predictive models examining modulation of signal transduction in the cell.

Moses’ quantitative cell biology initiatives have produced high-throughput, automated image analysis tools for microscopy. These tools address the issue that knowing the function of proteins is important, but where the proteins are found in the cell will determine whether they can accomplish their role.  Moses’ lab produces artificial intelligence models that autonomously learn about protein biology from image analysis; the model can directly predict where many different proteins will be found within the same cell.

Moses has been a dedicated supervisor to his graduate students and promotes engagement in his laboratory by undergraduate students. His commitment to academic openness is evident on his website, where he shares his databases and tools with the community. Alan Moses exemplifies our dedication to both Cell Biology and Systems Biology.

Congratulations, Alan!