When Bokai Zhu, Ph.D., assistant professor of medicine at Pitt, started collaborating with a mathematician to solve complex biological problems, he could never imagine that they would discover a “musica universalis” inside living cells.

The Greeks saw musica universalis – harmonic frequencies in nature – in the motion of the planets, whereas Zhu found it in the rhythms of gene expression across several different animal species.

In a paper published in PLoS Biology in January, Zhu’s lab described an evolutionarily conserved biological clock that is shared between mammals and simple marine animals and follows a 12-hour cycle of ocean tides.

Today, Zhu was awarded the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director’s New Innovator Award, worth over $2 million to continue this work.

Read the FULL ARTICLE by Ana Gorelova and Erin Hare, UPMC Media Relations.

Read the NIH Press Release.