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Biological Sciences
We perform Biological Systems Science research using prediction and experimentation to understand the design of biological systems, translating the genome to functional capabilities for applications to energy, environment, and health. Microbial community research at PNNL is focusing on environment and energy processes, and rational design and development of new bioprocesses, while our health-related research is centering on how multicellular systems, tissues and organisms respond to disease and exposure to the environment.

Artist's interpretation of multiscale model

Simulating Across Scales

Researchers from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the University of Central Florida developed a unified multiscale model that uses a single set of equations to simultaneously simulate fluid flow in an ecosystem containing both surface water and groundwater. Researchers applied the modeling approach to the Disney Wilderness Preserve in Kissimmee, Florida, where active field monitoring and measuring are ongoing to understand hydrological and biogeochemical processes.

Dick Smith in PNNL proteomics lab

Dick Smith Featured in Special Journal Issue

Congratulations to Richard (Dick) D. Smith, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, who was featured in the December 2014 issue of the Journal of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry. He was the focus for this issue, as well as an accompanying editorial, for his contributions to "Advancing High Performance Mass Spectrometry."  The editorial celebrates Smith's accomplishments as Battelle Fellow, Chief Scientist in the Biological Sciences Division, and Director of Proteomics Research at PNNL. He received the Society's 2013 Distinguished Contribution in Mass Spectrometry Award.

Justin Teeguarden's BPA Study Featured in WSJ Editorial

The February 11 issue of the Wall Street Journal included an editorial, "Snoopy is Safe After All," triggered by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory toxicologist Dr. Justin Teeguarden's recent study on bisphenol A (BPA) and the recent PNNL news release pointing to the study. The research appeared in the scientific journal Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology and was conducted by a research team that included Dr. Dan Doerge, Mona Churchwell, Nathan Twaddle, Jeff Fisher and Xiaoxia Yang, National Center for Toxicological Research; and Dr. Liesel Seryak, Ohio State University. News articles about the study and the conflicting views over BPA's health impacts are also scheduled to appear in Scientific American and Newsweek, among others. 

image of bowl of tomato soup

Man trumps dog: Earlier assumption about BPA exposure confirmed

Coating the mouth with BPA-containing food, like soup, does not lead to higher than expected levels of BPA in blood, a new study in Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology shows. The study authors, including PNNL's Justin Teeguarden, conclude that oral exposure does not create a risk for high exposures.

BPA, also known as bisphenol A, is used to make some plastics and to seal canned food containers against bacterial contamination. Food, which picks up trace amounts of BPA from packaging, is the major source of human exposure.

What Perturbs a Group of Microbes?

The future of industry may involve using microbes to generate energy or process chemicals. But how will these microbes respond when they are grouped into communities in an industrial setting? A team of scientists from PNNL and Washington State University Tri-Cities began to answer that question by determining how an environmental change, such as a different pH level, affected a community of microbes. The study is described in FEMS Microbiology Ecology.

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