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Seminar: Formal Models in Systems Biology

posted Jul 9, 2012, 9:53 AM by Massimo Bartoletti   [ updated Jul 10, 2012, 10:41 AM ]
Upcoming Seminar

Formal Models in Systems Biology

July 10,
16.00-18.00 Aula Magna Matematica,
July 12, 16.00-18.00 Aula C,
Palazzo delle Scienze - Cagliari

Andrea Bracciali
SICSA Lecturer - University of Stirling (UK)

Abstract. Papers like "Protein molecules as computational elements in living cells" [Bray, Nature 1995] and "Cells as computation" [Regev and Shapiro, Nature 2002] have put forward the idea that many aspects of living systems have a computational nature. Specifically, the complex network of interaction and information exchange that occurs within the biochemistry at the inter and intra cellular level, can be assimilated to the functioning of a distributed, interactive computational system. In the words of Bray, proteins are "functionally linked ... into biochemical 'circuits' that perform a variety of simple computational tasks including amplification, integration and information storage".

Under this perspective, it has appeared natural to employ the techniques used to model and analyse interactive computational systems to the realm of living organisms. Such a research trend aims at further developments within Systems Biology, the research area that approaches the study of the living organisms at a systemic level (see "Systems Biology: a brief overview" [Kitano, Science 2002]). Computationally inspired formal models and analysis techniques are being used to carry out "in silico" experiments, which may often represent a cheaper, faster, more ethical, more easily measurable, and less constrained complement to the more traditional "in vitro/vivo" investigation.

This extended-seminar will briefly survey some of the formal techniques, particularly those originated from concurrency theory, which have been adopted, adapted and further developed for the research in Systems Biology. Starting from a historical perspective, the main ideas of the approach will be discussed and a few small examples discussed.

The course has been funded by the Autonomous Region of Sardinia through the Visiting Professor Program 2011-12.