An introduction to current concepts of how cellular molecules come together to form systems, how these systems exhibit emergent properties, and how these properties are used to make cellular decisions.
This course will introduce the student to contemporary Systems Biology focused on mammalian cells, their constituents and their functions. Biology is moving from molecular to modular. As our knowledge of our genome and gene expression deepens and we develop lists of molecules (proteins, lipids, ions) involved in cellular processes, we need to understand how these molecules interact with each other to form modules that act as discrete functional systems. These systems underlie core subcellular processes such as signal transduction, transcription, motility and electrical excitability. In turn these processes come together to exhibit cellular behaviors such as secretion, proliferation and action potentials. What are the properties of such subcellular and cellular systems? What are the mechanisms by which emergent behaviors of systems arise? What types of experiments inform systems-level thinking? Why do we need computation and simulations to understand these systems?
The course will develop multiple lines of
reasoning to answer the questions listed above. Two major reasoning threads
are: the design, execution and interpretation of multivariable experiments that
produce large data sets; quantitative reasoning, models and simulations. Examples will be discussed to demonstrate
“how” cell- level functions arise and “why” mechanistic knowledge allows us to
predict cellular behaviors leading to disease states and drug responses.
Topics covered include:
cell biology; familiarity with statistics
Review articles and
selected original research articles are discussed in the lectures. A set of
review articles will be required reading. Reading primary articles is not
required to complete the course, but can be quite useful. All materials will be from open access journals or will be provided as links to
e-reprints, so there will be no cost to the student.
class session will consist of an approximately one hour lecture, divided into
multiple shorter segments.
For evaluation, students will be given homework assignments
that will require critical reasoning and problem solving skills. Questions may
be multiple choice or short (100 -300 word) essays.
Yes. Students who successfully complete the class will receive a Statement of Accomplishment signed by the Course Director.