Systems biology came about as growing numbers of engineers and scientists from other fields created algorithms which supported the analysis of biological data in incredible quantities. Whereas biologists of the past had been forced to study one item or aspect at a time, due to technical and biological limitations, it suddenly became possible to study biological phenomena within their natural contexts. This interdisciplinary field offers a holistic approach to interpreting these processes, and has been responsible for some of the most important developments in the science of human health and environmental sustainability.
This Very Short Introduction outlines the exciting processes and possibilities in the new field of systems biology. Eberhard O. Voit describes how it enabled us to learn how intricately the expression of every gene is controlled, how signaling systems keep organisms running smoothly, and how complicated even the simplest cells are. He explores what this field is about, why it is needed, and how it will affect our understanding of life, particularly in the areas of personalized medicine, drug development, food and energy production, and sustainable stewardship of our environments. Throughout he considers how new tools are being provided from the fields of mathematics, computer science, engineering, physics, and chemistry to grasp the complexity of the countless interacting processes in cells which would overwhelm the cognitive and analytical capabilities of the human mind.
1: What is systems biology all about?
2: The exciting puzzles of computational systems biology
3: The -omics revolution
4: Computational systems biology (CSB)
5: Interdependencies of biological systems
7: The lawless pursuit of biological systems
Eberhard O. Voit is a Professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory Medical School. He is a Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar and the David D. Flanagan Chair in Biological Systems. Voit has authored or co-authored about three hundred scientific articles and book chapters as well as several books. His most recent book The Inner Workings of Life (CUP, 2016) is an introduction to systems biology for educated non-experts. Voit is an elected fellow in the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) and the Society for Mathematical Biology (SMB). He was also recently inducted into the Royal Society of Medicine of the United Kingdom as an Overseas Fellow.