“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” (NIH). Combining experimental biology with computational modeling, simulation and bioinformatics, systems biology aims to understand how a biological system (cells, organs, an organism, or a population of organisms) functions, based on our understanding of its components and the understanding that “the whole is larger than the sum of the parts.” As a component of systems biology, network analysis applies theories that have been developed in the study of computer networks, social networks and physical networks to biological systems, to generate predictive models of the behavior of biological systems.
DCMB faculty members conduct systems biology research and network analysis with multiple approaches and for a variety of applications. They study the structure and function of networks that shape the dynamics of genome organization with mathematical and statistical approaches from theory of networks, systems and control theory, and multivariate statistics (Rajapaske). They conduct network analysis during cell fate differentiation and tissue development (Guan) and on metabolomics (Karnovsky). They use chemical kinetics, molecular modeling, computational modeling and scientific computing to gain insights into protein aggregation and protein folding diseases (Schnell).