Bio

B.S. University of Tehran, 2007Ph.D. University of Michigan, 2012Post-Doc Harvard Medical School, 2012-2017

"A major challenge for precision medicine is that we lack a clear understanding of the mechanisms that control heterogeneity in cell fate decisions in response to therapeutic perturbations, including cancer targeted- and immune-therapies. Our goal is to fill this knowledge gap via hypothesis-driven, experimental studies that leverage cutting-edge, high-throughput, multiplexed technologies, combined with predictive modeling. These studies will provide opportunities to improve precision medicine via enabling the control of population heterogeneity and guiding cells toward the desired phenotypes, e.g., cancer cell death."

Mohammad Fallachi-Sichani, PhD, Associate Professor

Fallahi-Sichani lab's research in the field of Systems Biology is focused on understanding the fundamental mechanisms of human cell responses to environmental and therapeutic perturbations. These responses vary among distinct cell types, or even among populations of genetically identical cells exposed to uniform conditions. Such cell-to-cell heterogeneities can profoundly impact the behavior of cell populations in response to many therapeutic treatments such as cancer targeted- and immune-therapies. For example, they complicate cancer therapies by giving rise to subpopulations of therapy-resistant tumor cells that ultimately lead to disease progression in cancer patients. Predicting and understanding the mechanisms that underpin cellular plasticity and heterogeneous cell fate decisions is a key challenge for quantitative biology and precision medicine. The challenge is significant because biomolecules in cells do not act in isolation but are embedded in multi-component networks that are subject to homeostatic control. Uncovering the rules that govern such seemingly complex networks and how they vary from one cell to the next would be difficult, if not impossible, using conventional methods. In our laboratory, we develop and use a combination of experimental, analytical, and computational toolkits to assay these sorts of networks and interrogate their complexities. What makes our inter-disciplinary approach unique and distinguished in the field is its focus on: (1) the innovative deployment of cutting-edge, high-throughput, multiplexed technologies to generate hypothesis-driven datasets, (2) the application of modern computational tools to analyze such high-dimensional datasets, and (3) the creation of quantitative models of cellular responses that are predictive at single-cell, molecular and network levels. The iterative use of these methods has enabled us to discover novel biological mechanisms, experimentally validate these mechanisms, and utilize them to guide the development of better therapies for precision medicine. To learn more about the Fallahi-Sichani's lab and research, visit: https://www.fallahi-sichani-lab.com/.

More about Dr. Fallahi-Sichani:

Mohammad Fallahi-Sichani obtained his bachelor’s degree in Biotechnology from the University of Tehran in 2007. In 2012, he earned a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Michigan, where he was awarded the Eleanor Towner Prize for Outstanding PhD Research. He then joined Harvard Medical School as a Life Sciences Research Foundation (LSRF) postdoctoral fellow in Systems Biology, where he was also awarded a K99/R00 Pathway to Independence Award from the NCI in 2015. Dr. Fallahi-Sichani began his faculty career as an Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Michigan in 2017. He joined University of Virginia in June 2020, and was promoted to Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering with tenure in 2023.

Prospective Graduate Students

Fallahi-Sichani laboratory is currently accepting graduate student applications through the Department of Biomedical Engineering Ph.D. Program at the University of Virginia. We welcome graduate students interested in Systems Biology, Computational Biology, Biomedical Data Sciences, Cancer Biology and Pharmacology. Enthusiastic students with background in Biology or Engineering are encouraged to contact Dr. Fallahi-Sichani at fallahi@virginia.edu to discuss possible projects.

Prospective Postdocs

We also welcome highly motivated postdoctoral research candidates who are interested in working at the cutting edge of Quantitative Biology to the Fallahi-Sichani laboratory at the University of Virginia.

Awards

  • BMES Cell and Molecular Bioengineering (CMBE) Rising Star Award 2023
  • Research Collaboration Award, University of Virginia Research Achievement Awards 2022
  • Department of Defense CDMRP Career Development Award 2018
  • V Foundation for Cancer Research V Scholar Award 2017

Research Interests

  • Single Cell Pharmacology
  • Cancer Systems Biology
  • Computational Biology
  • Signal Transduction
  • Epigenetic Regulation

In the News

Selected Publications

  • Loss of NF1 in melanoma confers sensitivity to SYK kinase inhibition. ABS Cancer Research. 2023 Jan 18;83(2):316-331 | Abecunas C, Whitehead CE, Ziemke EK, Baumann DG, Frankowski-McGregor CL, Sebolt-Leopold JS, Fallahi-Sichani M.
  • AP-1 transcription factor network explains diverse patterns of cellular plasticity in melanoma cells. ABS Cell Reports. 2022 Aug 2;40(5):111147 | Comandante-Lou N*, Baumann DG*, Fallahi-Sichani M.
  • Epigenetic modulation reveals differentiation state specificity of oncogene addiction. ABS Nature Communications. 2021 Mar 9;12(1):1536 | Khaliq M, Manikkam M, Martinez ED, Fallahi-Sichani M.
  • Phenotype-based probabilistic analysis of heterogeneous responses to cancer drugs and their combination efficacy. ABS PLoS Computational Biology. 2020 Feb 21;16(2):e1007688 | Comandante-Lou N, Khaliq M, Venkat D, Manikkam M, Fallahi-Sichani M.
  • Epigenetic mechanisms of escape from BRAF oncogene dependency. ABS Cancers (Basel). 2019 Oct 1;11(10):1480 | Khaliq M, Fallahi-Sichani M.