Free Systems Biologyjournals

Systems biology is increasingly popular, but to many biologists it remains unclear what this new discipline actually encompasses. This brief personal perspective starts by outlining the asthetic qualities that motivate systems biologists, discusses which activities do not belong to the core of systems biology, and finally explores the crucial link with synthetic biology. Systems Biology focuses on analytical and computational models that are strongly supported and inspired by real biological systems and that integrate current empirical knowledge. Systems biology is an approach in biomedical research to understanding the larger picture—be it at the level of the organism, tissue, or cell—by putting its pieces together. It’s in stark contrast to decades of reductionist biology, which involves taking the pieces apart. Sophisticated computational models and simulations represent integral parts of systems biology. In immunology, they are needed to understand the complex biochemical networks that regulate the interactions among the immune system’s cells and between these cells and infectious organisms. Martin Meier-Schellersheim was the first to join NIAID’s venture in 2001, even before the launch of PSIIM. He has been most successful in empowering non–computational biologists to do computational biology. Indeed, he has helped foster the very team concept that underlies the new lab; his software brings advanced computational capacity to a broad range of biologists.    

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