Systems biology is the computational and mathematical analysis and modeling of complex biological systems. It is a biology-based interdisciplinary field of study that focuses on complex interactions within biological systems, using a holistic approach to biological research. When it is crossing the field of systems theory and the applied mathematics methods, it develops into the sub-branch of complex systems biology.
The Human Genome Project is an example of applied systems thinking in biology which has led to new, collaborative ways of working on problems in the biological field of genetics. One of the aims of systems biology is to model and discover emergent properties, properties of cells, tissues and organisms functioning as a system whose theoretical description is only possible using techniques of systems biology. These typically involve metabolic networks or cell signaling networks.
Systems biology can be considered from a number of different aspects.
As a field of study, particularly, the study of the interactions between the components of biological systems, and how these interactions give rise to the function and behavior of that system.
As a paradigm, systems biology is usually defined in antithesis to the so-called reductionist paradigm (biological organization), although it's fully consistent with the scientific method.
Systems biology is about putting together rather than taking apart, integration rather than reduction. It requires that we develop ways of thinking about integration that are as rigorous as our reductionist programmes, but different.
As a series of operational protocols used for performing research, namely a cycle composed of theory, analytic or computational modelling to propose specific testable hypotheses about a biological system, experimental validation, and then using the newly acquired quantitative description of cells or cell processes to refine the computational model or theory. Therefore, transcriptomics, metabolomics, proteomics and high-throughput techniques are used to collect quantitative data for the construction and validation of models.
It works as a socioscientific phenomenon defined by the strategy of pursuing integration of complex data about the interactions in biological systems from diverse experimental sources using interdisciplinary tools and personnel.
This variety of viewpoints is illustrative of the fact that systems biology refers to a cluster of peripherally overlapping concepts rather than a single well-delineated field. However, the term has widespread currency and popularity as of 2007, with chairs and institutes of systems biology proliferating worldwide.
This ability to design predictive, multiscale models enables our scientists to discover new biomarkers for disease, stratify patients based on unique genetic profiles, and target drugs and other treatments. Systems biology, ultimately, creates the potential for entirely new kinds of exploration, and drives constant innovation in biology-based technology and computation.
Systems biology studies biological systems by systematically perturbing them (biologically, genetically, or chemically); monitoring the gene, protein, and informational pathway responses; integrating these data; and ultimately, formulating mathematical models that describe the structure of the system and its response to individual perturbations.
By discovering how function arises in dynamic interactions, systems biology addresses the missing links between molecules and physiology. Top-down systems biology identifies molecular interaction networks on the basis of correlated molecular behavior observed in genome-wide “omics” studies. Bottom-up systems biology examines the mechanisms through which functional properties arise in the interactions of known components.
Systems biology: The study of biological systems taking into account the interactions of the key elements such as DNA, RNA, proteins, and cells with respect to one another. The integration of this information may be by computer.