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Systems Biology Initiatives


ENFIN (Experimental Network for Functional Integration) is a €9 million E.U. initiative that kicked off last year and will be funded for 5 years. With 20 partner groups from 13 countries on board, this initiative has a mix of theorists and experimentalists.

SystemsX is a joint effort of the University of Basel, the University of Zurich, and the ETH Zurich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich). SystemsX-funded projects will be hosted throughout Switzerland but will be concentrated in two new institutes: the Center for Biosystems Science and Engineering in Basel, and the Institute for Molecular Systems Biology at the ETH Zurich. The pharmaceutical firm Roche is also on board as an industrial partner.

HepatoSys , with €13 million funding from the German Ministry for Research and Education (BMBF) for the first 3 years and €24 million promised for the following three, is a nationwide German systems biology project. The long-term goal is the creation of a virtual liver cell. The initiative comprises 30 partners from academia and industry.

Based at Imperial College London , the Centre for Integrative Systems Biology brings together researchers from several faculties within Imperial. One of the main topics will be host-pathogen interaction. The project received £5 million in funding from the U.K.'s Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and £1 million from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) last autumn.

The Universities of Manchester and Newcastle have also received £6 million from BBSRC and EPSRC to establish Centres for Integrative Systems concentrating on yeast and the ageing cell, respectively. Two or three more centres in the U.K. are expected to be funded by these research councils by summer 2006.

COSBICS --Computational Systems Biology in Cellular Signaling--is an E.U. initiative focused on understanding cell signaling in the context of tumor development.Partners are based in Germany, Bulgaria, Scotland, and Spain.

NucSys is an E.U.-funded Marie Curie Research Training Network. This group is using a systems biology approach to explore how nuclear receptor transcription factors orchestrate responses to environmental changes that cells experience. The consortium includes partners in Finland, the U.K., the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Germany, Austria, and Italy.

The Yeast Systems Biology Network (YSBN) aims to bring researchers working on yeast systems biology together.

The Academy of Finland and Finland's National Technology Agency, Tekes, have a joint Systems Biology initiative. To date, €9 million has been committed.

BioSim is an E.U.-funded network of researchers investigating biomedical questions--particularly pharmacological ones--using a systems-biology approach. Forty partners across Europe are involved, including 10 industrial and four regulatory bodies. The effort is coordinated by the Technical University of Denmark.

SysMO --Systems Biology of Microorganisms--is a collaborative effort between Austria, Finland, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Norway, and the U.K. A host of microorganisms are under investigation. There is a sizable industrial component.

Silicon Cell Initiative is a Netherlands-based initiative that aims to develop precise computer models of living cells. Such models will be stored centrally so they are accessible for in silico experimentation.

Heidelberg’s Center for Modelling and Simulation in the Biosciences ( BIOMS) is a collaboration between the European Media Laboratory, the European Molecular Biology Laboratory, the Max Planck Institute for Medical Research, and the University of Heidelberg, in Germany.

Systems Biology , based at the University of Stuttgart, Germany, is investigating prokaryotic and eukaryotic processes. The Max Planck Institute for Dynamic of Complex Technical Systems in Magdeburg is a partner in this initiative.

Nature Inspired Smart Information Systems (NISIS) is an E.U.-funded network with a substantial systems biology component. The initiative includes members from all over Europe.

Genes to Cognition is a neuroscience systems biology initiative. The Wellcome Trust's Sanger Institute in Hinxton, U.K., and the University of Edinburgh are the main partners, but the project includes collaborators worldwide.

U.S. Systems Biology Initiatives

The Institute for Systems Biology (ISB) in Seattle, Washington, has 170 scientists from many different disciplines working on a wide range of scientific problems. ISB was the first major institution to focus exclusively on systems biology.

The Department of Systems Biology at Harvard Medical School in Boston has 20 faculty members (including departmental faculty, affiliated faculty, visiting faculty, instructors, and lecturers) working on biomedical research projects. Additional faculty positions are expected in 2006.

The Systems Biology Group at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Washington, employs 90-plus staff scientists working on proteomics, microbial-cell dynamics, cell and molecular imaging and spectroscopy, computational biology, and bioinformatics. Particular foci include biomolecular systems, pathogen biology, computational science, and environmental biomarkers.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Computational and Systems Biology Initiative applies large-scale numerical methods to the study of molecular, cellular, and structural biology. Particular areas of interest include gene finding and analysis, protein design, network-based signal analysis, and image informatics.

NIH's Biomedical Information Science and Technology Initiative aims to make "optimal use" of computer science and information technology to address problems in biology and medicine.

The goal of NIH's Proteomics Research Resource for Integrative Biology is to develop new proteomics technologies and make them available to the biomedical research community.

The Center for Computational Biology at the University of Colorado, Denver, and Health Sciences Center blends research and education in computational biology.

The Molecular Sciences Institute in Berkeley, California, combines genomic experimentation and computer modeling to predict the behavior of cells and organisms in response to genetic and environmental changes.

Outside the U.S.

Canada : The Ottawa Institute of Systems Biology is located at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Ottawa. The aim of the institute is to develop and apply systems biology to biological studies relevant to human diseases.

The Systems Biology Institute in Tokyo, Japan, aims to apply systems biology to medicine and engineering.

Systems Biology Conferences

Systems biologists interviewed by Next Wave recommend the International Conference on Systems Biology , which will be held in Yokohama, Japan, in November 2006.

Genomes to Systems Conference , 22 to 24 March 2006, Manchester, U.K.

Top-Down Approaches in Systems Biology--Applications , 5 May 2006, Jena, Germany.

Conference on Systems Biology of Mammalian Cells (SBMC), 12 to 14 July, Heidelberg, Germany.

Systems Biology--International Workshop , 17 to 19 July 2006, National University of Ireland, Maynooth, Ireland.

International Conference on Computational Systems Biology , 20 to 23 July 2006, Shanghai, China.

Intelligent Systems for Molecular Biology (ISMB 2006), 6 to 10 August 2006, Fortaleza, Brazil.

Other resources:

Systems-biology.Org is a freely available portal aimed at providing information and tools needed to understand systems biology.

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