Computational Systems Biology

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Study of fundamental concepts, models and computational methods for the analysis of complex biological networks. Topics: Systems approaches in biology, biology and reaction network fundamentals, modeling and simulation approaches (topological, probabilistic, stoichiometric, qualitative, linear / nonlinear ODEs, stochastic), and systems analysis (complexity reduction, stability, identification).


Biology has witnessed an unprecedented increase in experimental data and, correspondingly, an increased need for computational methods to analyze this data. The explosion of sequenced genomes, and subsequently, of bioinformatics methods for the storage, analysis and comparison of genetic sequences provides a prominent example. Recently, however, an additional area of research, captured by the label "Systems Biology", focuses on how networks, which are more than the mere sum of their parts' properties, establish biological functions. This is essentially a task of reverse engineering. The aim of this course is to provide an introductory overview of corresponding computational methods for the modeling, simulation and analysis of biological networks. We will start with an introduction into the basic units, functions and design principles that are relevant for biology at the level of individual cells. Making extensive use of example systems, the course will then focus on methods and algorithms that allow for the investigation of biological networks with increasing detail. These include (i) graph theoretical approaches for revealing large-scale network organization, (ii) probabilistic (Bayesian) network representations, (iii) structural network analysis based on reaction stoichiometries, (iv) qualitative methods for dynamic modeling and simulation (Boolean and piece-wise linear approaches), (v) mechanistic modeling using ordinary differential equations (ODEs) and finally (vi) stochastic simulation methods.



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