Systems Biology is a new methodological paradigm that transformed 21st century research in Biology. While Molecular Biology has led to remarkable progress in our understanding of biological systems, the current focus is mainly on identification of genes and functions of their products which are components of the system.

Biology has become increasingly cross-disciplinary as biologists, computer scientists, engineers, mathematicians, physicists and physicians, work together to develop the high throughput technologies and computational/mathematical tools required for this new biology – all driven by the contemporary needs of biology and medicine. Finally, all these changes have enabled the emergence of Systems Biology -- the idea that we can study interactions of all the elements in a biological system to reveal their emergent properties.

The systemic approach to biology is not new, but recently gained new impact, mainly due to the remarkable progress of experimental and computational (Bioinformatic) methods, each time most ingenious and powerful. It is supported in the accumulated biological knowledge, increasingly detailed, the creation of new experimental techniques in genomics and proteomics, new technologies for making comprehensive measurements on DNA sequence, gene expression profiles, protein-protein interactions, the tradition of mathematical modelling of biological processes, and exponential growing of Bioinformatic computer programming skills (as a prerequisite for building huge databases and analysis of large-scale systems).

We have now a golden opportunity to uncover the essential principles of biological systems that enable us to understand them in their entirety by investigating: (1). the structure of the systems, such as genes, metabolism, and signal transduction networks and physical structures, (2). the dynamics of such systems, (3). methods to control them, and (4.) methods to design and modify them for desired properties.

This course aims to give an overview of the main mathematical modelling approaches to the field of Systems Biology, that will provide an holistic, system-level understanding of life.
João Nuno Tavares