20.109(F13): Tools for Systems Biology (Day2)

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20.109(F13): Laboratory Fundamentals of Biological Engineering

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How does one define 'Systems Biology'?
One definition is provided by the MIT Integrative Cancer Biology Program:

Systems biology strives to describe the extreme multivariate nature of cellular systems using statistical and mathematical techniques, ultimately predicting the response of cells/tissues/organisms to normal and pathological perturbations. To achieve predictive models, systems biology demands integration of disparate data; genomic, proteomic, metabolomic, or epigenetic data alone is not enough to fully describe organismal behaviors. Therefore, systems biology is necessarily a multidisciplinary venture requiring significant collaboration and melding of experimentation and computation.

Phew, that is a mouth full. Let's boil that down to two key points: Systems biology depends on (1) measuring many parameters and (2) using mathematical relationships to distill those parameters down to the ones that are most important. To satisfy these key points we need an informative experimental system that is amenable to a great number of perturbations. For the purpose of 20.109, 'perturbation' refers to the cell stimulus or intracellular signaling pathway inhibitor that we are employing in this module. However, in a greater context, perturbation could be cell culture media formulation, temperature and oxygen conditions within the TC incubator, elasticity of cell culture surface, 2D vs. 3D culture environment, etc.