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When several people speak to us at once over the din of a noisy crowd, most of us find it hard to concentrate. But in the world of the cell, gigantic networks composed of a great many members all busily communicating with each other operate with amazing efficiency. For instance, the network of 30,000 genes in a cell functions to produce the necessary ingredients for life, each in exactly the right amounts, in the right places and at just the right times.
This feat is remarkable, given that genetic networks exist in "noisy" conditions full of random signals and background buzz that can potentially disrupt the network, or even affect its very nature. Sagi Levy is a research student in the lab of Prof. Naama Barkai in the Molecular Genetics Department of the Weizmann Institute. He studies the evolution of genetic networks to see how they develop resistance to the genetic and environmental noise in their daily routines and learn to separate the signal from the background noise.
"I first became interested in science in fourth grade, when I attended after-school classes in math and physics."
Levy integrates experimental and theoretical tools in his research to test the idea that this genetic immunity develops in the presence of noise. He uses yeast cells for his experiments, testing their resistance when grown under fixed conditions and comparing them with cells that evolve in changing conditions. At the same time, he is conducting theoretical research to create a model of evolving genetic resistance to noise that will shed light on how it works and the conditions needed for it to develop.
"I chose to study at the Weizmann Graduate School because there I was allowed to combine physics and biology in a multidisciplinary track."
Sagi Levy’s research in the lab of Prof. Naama Barkai is supported by the Minna James Heineman Stiftung and Foundation Iris. Prof. Barkai is the incumbent of the Soretta and Henry Shapiro Career Development Chair.