Biocomputing and systems biology

In the last decade, advances in life sciences have gathered a vast amount of experimental information about biological systems at cellular and sub-cellular levels. Now we are facing two big challenges:

  • How do we interpret, analyse the experimental information and relate it to the functions of life?
  • Can we reconstruct biological systems from such detailed information?

There is a strong motivation to address these challenges.  As a biological system is an integral system within which components interact with each other, the interaction coordinates the simple behaviours of a biological system at cellular and sub-cellular levels into more complicated behaviours at larger tissue and organ levels. To understand the functions of a biological system, one has to synthesize the detailed, but isolated biological information obtained at the smaller levels into an interactive system at the larger levels.

To tackle the two challenges requires multidisciplinary approaches. Recently, developments in non-linear science, modern physics of excitable media and applied mathematics, together with availability of supercomputing power, have provided powerful tools to integrate detailed biological information into an interactive system. This forms a new exciting research area – reconstruction of virtual biological systems: from cell to organ.

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