Systems Biology seeks to understand how the parts of biological systems are integrated to produce the amazing machines, cells, organisms and ecosystems that exist in our world. We seek to define general principles of biological systems. Part of the effort involves defining the relevant parts and measuring how they change in a quantitative and comprehensive fashion as they carry out their functions. This task is the domain of genomics, proteomics, metabolomics, functional genomics, bioinformatics and other aspects of Network Biology and Bioinformatics. Another related task is to understand the “mechanisms,” the precise structures and interactions of those parts that ultimately produce biological function. This task requires Computational Modeling of potential mechanisms, coupled with Quantitative tests of the predictions of models by cell biological, molecular biological, and biophysical techniques. One particularly stunning feature of organisms is their ability to develop from a single fertilized egg; thus, Systems Developmental Biology is an important third theme of our program. This theme involves the study of how organisms generate complexity of cell types in a defined spatial organization by a sequential, contingent, irreversible cascade of molecular, cellular, and genomic processes.
Our goal is to train students who can seamlessly integrate diverse quantitative and experimental methodology and can balance the tension between global understanding and mechanistic insight. This training involves study of biology, mathematics, quantitative reasoning, computational and data analysis tools, and the rich experimental methods of the biological sciences.