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Christian Forst

  • ASSISTANT PROFESSOR Genetics and Genomic Sciences
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  • B.S., University of Vienna

  • M.S., University of Vienna

  • Ph.D., University of Vienna


    Dr. Christian Forst is Assistant Professor in the Department of Genetics and Genomic Sciences since Dec. 2012. Previously, he was appointed as Faculty Member at the UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, TX from 2008 to 2012. He was Technical Staff Member in the Bioscience Division at Los Alamos National Laboratory from 1999 to 2008. From 1997 to 1999 he served as research associate in bioinformatics at the Beckman Institute, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Previous to this position he functioned as group leader in theory of molecular evolutionary dynamics at the Institute of Molecular Biotechnology, Jena, Germany. He is author of about 40 peer reviewed scientific articles which cover a spectrum of research areas such as chaotic behavior in population dynamic problems, generic properties of genotype-phenotype relationships, evolutionary dynamics and phenotypic error thresholds, theory of molecular evolution, evolution in molecular host-pathogen systems, metabolic pathway phylogenies, comparative analysis of pathway relationships, molecular biology foundation of host-pathogen interactions, drug and stress response networks and network proteomics. Highlights in his scientific career include the identification and theoretical description of neutral networks in genotype-phenotype maps and of the phenotypic error threshold in molecular evolution, the phylogenetic analysis of metabolic pathways as well as network assisted drug development against influenza.

    He served and is still serving as ad hoc reviewer for journals, such as Advances in Complex Systems, Bioinformatics, BioMed Central Bioinformatics/Systems Biology, BioSilico, Bulletin of Mathematical Biology, Cell Biochemistry and Biophysics, Expert Opinion on Drug Discovery, Gene, Genome Biology, Journal of Theoretical Biology, Molecular Biology and Evolution, Molecular Systems Biology, The New Scientist, and Virus Research. Dr. Forst is member of the editorial board of the International Journal of Cancer Genomics and Proteomics. He also served as reviewer on review panels of the US Department of Energy, the National Institute of Health and the National Science Foundation. Dr. Forst was further member of the review panel of the Life Sciences:Information Technology Program (IT:LS) of the Industry-University Cooperative Research Program (IUCRP aka UC Discovery Grants), Univ. of California, from 2000 to 2007. Dr. Forst received a distinguished performance scholarship from the University of Vienna, Austria in 1990 and a dissertation award with Magna cum Laude in 1993. He holds a B.S. in Astronomy, a M.S. in Chemistry and a Ph.D. in Theoretical Chemistry, all from the University of Vienna, Austria.


  • 2012 -
    Haberecht Wildhare-Idea Research Award
    UT Southwestern Medical Center

  • 2006 -
    Distinguished Performance Award
    Los Alamos National Laboratory

  • 1990 -
    Distinguished Performance Scholarship
    University of Vienna

  • 1989 -
    Elected student participant of 1989 Nobel Laureate Conference


Methods in Network Biology:

Furthermore, we are developing mathematical approaches and computational tools for the study and analysis of biochemical networks. Such approaches include novel clustering methods to identify tightly connected sub-networks, parallel algorithms to effectively calculate k-shortest paths and network algebras to compare and manipulate biochemical networks in a well-defined, mathematical manner.

Host-Pathogen Systems Biology:

Unlike traditional biological research that focuses on a small set of  components, systems biology studies the complex interactions among a large number of genes, proteins and other elements of biological networks and systems. Host-Pathogen Systems Biology examines the interactions between the components of two distinct organisms: a microbial or viral pathogen and its animal host. With the availability of complete genomic sequences of a variety of hosts and pathogens, together with breakthroughs in proteomics, metabolomics and other experimental areas, the investigation of host-pathogen systems on a multitude of levels of detail has come within reach. 
We are particularly interested the role of biochemical networks for the study of complex relationships across species boundaries. Although the research area of host-pathogen systems biology spans multiple spatial and temporal scales, we are focusing on the molecular and cellular aspect of pathogen-host interactions. Our research covers the construction of biochemical networks, the identification of functional response sub-networks and their comparative network analysis. These methods find application in the identification of host markers and drug targets for further drug development and therapeutic interventions. 


Ward SE, Kim HS, Komurov K, Mendiratta S, Tsai PL, Schmolke M, Satterly N, Manicassamy B, Forst CV, Roth MG, García-Sastre A, Blazewska KM, McKenna CE, Fontoura BM, White MA. Host modulators of H1N1 cytopathogenicity. PloS one 2012; 7(8): e39284.

Zhang L, Das P, Schmolke M, Manicassamy B, Wang Y, Deng X, Cai L, Tu BP, Forst CV, Roth MG, Levy DE, García-Sastre A, de Brabander J, Phillips MA, Fontoura BM. Inhibition of pyrimidine synthesis reverses viral virulence factor-mediated block of mRNA nuclear export. The Journal of Cell Biology 2012 Feb; 196(3): 315-26.

Orvedahl A, Sumpter R, Xiao G, Ng A, Zou Z, Tang Y, Narimatsu M, Gilpin C, Sun Q, Roth M, Forst CV, Wrana JL, Zhang YE, Luby-Phelps K, Xavier RJ, Xie Y, Levine B. Image-based genome-wide siRNA screen identifies selective autophagy factors. Nature 2011 Dec; 480(7375): 113-7.

Mata MA, Satterly N, Versteeg GA, Frantz D, Wei S, Williams N, Schmolke M, Peña-Llopis S, Brugarolas J, Forst CV, White MA, García-Sastre A, Roth MG, Fontoura BM. Chemical inhibition of RNA viruses reveals REDD1 as a host defense factor. Nature chemical biology 2011 Oct; 7(10): 712-9.

Sohaee N, Forst CV. Identification of functional modules in a PPI network by bounded diameter clustering. Journal of bioinformatics and computational biology 2010 Dec; 8(6): 929-43.

Stadler PF, Prohaska SJ, Forst CV, Krakauer DC. Defining genes: a computational framework. Theory in biosciences = Theorie in den Biowissenschaften 2009 Aug; 128(3): 165-70.

Tatebe K, Zeytun A, Ribeiro RM, Hoffmann R, Harrod KS, Forst CV. Response network analysis of differential gene expression in human epithelial lung cells during avian influenza infections. BMC bioinformatics 2010; 11: 170.

Forst CV. Host-pathogen systems biology. Drug discovery today 2006 Mar; 11(5-6): 220-7.

Forst CV, Flamm C, Hofacker IL, Stadler PF. Algebraic comparison of metabolic networks, phylogenetic inference, and metabolic innovation. BMC bioinformatics 2006; 7: 67.

Cabusora L, Sutton E, Fulmer A, Forst CV. Differential network expression during drug and stress response. Bioinformatics (Oxford, England) 2005 Jun; 21(12): 2898-905.

Mawuenyega KG, Forst CV, Dobos KM, Belisle JT, Chen J, Bradbury EM, Bradbury AR, Chen X. Mycobacterium tuberculosis functional network analysis by global subcellular protein profiling. Molecular biology of the cell 2005 Jan; 16(1): 396-404.

Forst CV, Schulten K. Phylogenetic analysis of metabolic pathways. Journal of molecular evolution 2001 Jun; 52(6): 471-89.

Forst CV, Schulten K. Evolution of metabolisms: a new method for the comparison of metabolic pathways using genomics information. Journal of computational biology 1999; 6(3-4): 343-60.

Industry Relationships

Physicians and scientists on the faculty of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai often interact with pharmaceutical, device and biotechnology companies to improve patient care, develop new therapies and achieve scientific breakthroughs. In order to promote an ethical and transparent environment for conducting research, providing clinical care and teaching, Mount Sinai requires that salaried faculty inform the School of their relationships with such companies.

Dr. Forst did not report having any of the following types of financial relationships with industry during 2015 and/or 2016: consulting, scientific advisory board, industry-sponsored lectures, service on Board of Directors, participation on industry-sponsored committees, equity ownership valued at greater than 5% of a publicly traded company or any value in a privately held company. Please note that this information may differ from information posted on corporate sites due to timing or classification differences.

Mount Sinai's faculty policies relating to faculty collaboration with industry are posted on our website. Patients may wish to ask their physician about the activities they perform for companies.

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