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The Music of Life: the principles of Systems Biology

Tuesday 11 November 2008, 1400-1500
Lecture Theatre 3, Lancaster University Management School

Professor Denis Noble Professor Denis Noble

How can we decipher complex systems?

Science is traditionally daunted by the complexity of reality. By its tendency to oversimplify, it can all-too-readily discard the very phenomena it would like to study - the whole is often more than the sum of its component parts. Can physics help here? Or systems theory, or applied mathematics, or computing? How does the environment impinge? What can psychology, or sociology, or engineering glean?

Systems Biology has become very popular, with new centres and departments opening up around the world. But what exactly is it? Professor Noble, one of the founders of the field, will propose a set of ten principles (Noble, 2006, 2008) and illustrate them with the computational biology of the heart and with examples from all levels of biological organisation.

Professor Denis Noble

Professor Denis Noble published the first computer modelling of the heart (Nature, 1960). From 1984-2004, he was Professor of Cardiovascular Physiology at the University of Oxford, and is now co-Director of Computational Physiology. He is author of The Music of Life, the first popular book on systems and computational biology.

As Secretary-General of the International Union of Physiological Sciences, he helped launch the Physiome Project, an international project to use computer simulations to create the quantitative physiological models necessary to interpret the genome - which has now been joined by the Virtual Physiological Human Network of Excellence.

Professor Noble also leads preDiCT, an EC FP7-funded project to model and predict the effect of pharmaceutical compounds on the heart.

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