Biology: Hacking the Cell's Circuitry

Biologists have spent much of the past century taking cells apart to figure out what makes them tick. Adam Arkin, 33, a physical chemist who divides his time between the University of California, Berkeley, and the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, wants to put the pieces back together again. His goal is to create a computer model of how the cell works so that someday he'll be able to design his own cells from scratch.

It's a daunting task. A single enzyme in a liver cell may be controlled by as many as 14 different regulatory processes. Multiply that by thousands of...

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