Systems biology top down

Eric Werner

Talk at the Symposium on Systems Biology: A New Venue for Exploring Mechanisms of Developmental Toxicity, Society for Toxicology 43rd Annual Meeting, March 21-25, 2004. Society for Toxicology

Speaker: Eric Werner, Ph.D.


Systems biology uses mathematical and computational methods to describe biological phenomena. In this talk, we give an introduction to the goals of systems biology as well as the methods used in systems biology to formalize what seem to be intractable and complex biological systems. In particular we focus on cell signaling and regulatory networks in multicellular genomes. Both cell signaling and genomic regulatory networks have become a focal point for computational modeling and simulation efforts by engineers, computer scientists, mathematicians, and systems biologists. Computational biology methodologies require a precise description of the system under study, including key input and output variables and feedback control mechanisms, and uses this description to simulate or model the described system.

The formal representation of complex living systems is essential to the understanding of such systems as well as their pathologies. The use of in silico models to predict the dynamic behavior of a system in response to chemical agents may help in process of drug design, drug discovery and the development of therapeutic strategies.

We will also discuss minimal multicellular organisms and their role in the future of systems biology and the health sciences. Minimal genomes for artificially constructed single cells and multicellular organisms will lead the way to integrating in silico simulations with in vitro and in vivo bioengineering methods. This will lead to the design of simple in vitro and in vivo multicellular systems making the science of systems biology realizable.