Computational and Systems Biology


Computational biology seeks to help understand biological systems using computational methods to take advantage of large and complex data increasingly generated by genomics technologies. Systems Biology studies biological systems as a whole, considering properties not apparent when examining one component at a time, and requires a combination of experimental and computational methods to map and understand these complex systems. Computational and systems biology are often combined and share the goals of understanding how biological systems work at the cellular and molecular level, how these systems may break to cause disease and how to fix these failures and develop useful therapies.

Amazing progress has been made in this field recently, taking advantage of exponentially increasing data measuring many aspects of biological systems. Recently, researchers simulated an entire cell and are currently using hundreds of thousands of genomes to map mutations causing thousands of diseases. Molecular Genetics researchers in Computational and Systems Biology made significant progress on understanding alternative splicing, discovered thousands of novel protein interactions and complexes, mapped new metabolic pathways, and discovered mutations that underlie a range of human diseases, including cancer. They also found new pathways of therapeutic vulnerability in pathogens and created the first complete genetic interaction map of a cell, substantially improving our understanding of basic genetics.

Both Computational and Systems Biology are highly interdisciplinary fields. They make use of the latest ideas from computer science, math and statistics (e.g. machine learning), engineering (e.g. robots that automatically perform genome-scale experiments), chemistry (e.g. vast libraries of chemical probes) and an ever-expanding set of genomics and proteomics technologies to apply to understanding biological systems. Computational and Systems Biology is highly interdisciplinary, and researchers in this field are represented in all other Molecular Genetics fields.

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