On Wednesday October 28 2015 at 9 AM Hans Westerhoff will give a lecture entitled Systems Biology: Did you know it all along? The lecture is at Science Park 904 in room C4.174. You are all welcome!


Abstract of the Lecture

Hans V. Westerhoff

Amsterdam Centre for Systems Biology, Amsterdam, EU

Synthetic Systems Biology and Nuclear Organization, Swammerdam Institute for Life Sciences, University of Amsterdam, EU

Molecular Cell Physiology, Amsterdam Institute for Molecules, Medicines and Systems, VU University, Amsterdam, EU

Manchester Centre for Integrative Systems Biology, the University of Manchester, EU

What we know as ‘Systems Biology’ has much focused on the living cell as if a box of metabolic, signaling and gene-gene interaction networks. But, there is more Life outside this box. That Life consists of collaborating living cells with either identical (some multicellular organisms) or different (such as in microbial ecosystems) genomes, or a combination of both (the human). Systems Biology tries to discover the principles governing the emergence of the functions from all the nonlinear interactions in any living system. Some may think that this is what ecology has been doing all along, but it hasn’t: only now a complete connection between function and genes or proteins is becoming possible. This requires new ways to deal with the complexity that this entails. Systems Biology’s mission ultimately requires (meta)genome wide analyses incorporating environmental information and accommodating principles of chemical physics and evolutionary biology. It also necessitates formal yet effective approaches such as mathematics and modelling. That is, if ways can be found to deal with the tremendous complexity of the tasks at hand.

I will discuss a number of examples of intracellular systems biology that might be of use for systems ecology, if adapted. These include: (i) the metabolic control analysis that may be adapted as ecological control analysis, (ii) the successful cut through complexity achieved by the genome wide metabolic maps, (iii) and an example of an ecological systems inside the human body producing our innate immunity.