The Center for Biological Systems Engineering is the home of network biology and complex diseases at Washington University. Research within the center focuses on modeling, predicting and designing functions of biological systems that result from integration of signals and responses of biomolecular and cellular networks.
Motivation: Complex diseases such as cancers, cardiovascular disorders, and aging-related disorders associated with neurodegeneration are the result of progressive and /or catastrophic failures of functions of nested hierarchies of biomolecular and cellular networks. Information encoded in biological sequences is processed through integration and non-linear transformations across multiple levels and involves the self-assembly and interactions of dynamical structures including macromolecular complexes, molecular and cellular networks, and clusters of cells and tissues. These nested hierarchies control a range of processes including the differentiation and migration of cells, remodeling of extracellular matrices and tissues, responses of the innate and adaptive immune systems, and information encoding and decoding in neuronal subsystems. Loss of control and regulation in these processes lead a range of complex diseases.
Our research and expertise: The center has developed strong expertise in cutting edge imaging, microscopy and single molecule technologies to be synergistic with computational approaches such as machine learning, solving complex inverse problems, modeling dynamical systems, interpreting information encoded in high dimensional spaces, macromolecular self-assembly, and unraveling the principles of hierarchical organization and dynamics of complex systems. This collective expertise is being leveraged to develop new drugs, improve our ability to interpret sophisticated imaging data, understand how populations of neurons act collectively for learning and accomplishing complex tasks, engineer novel neuromorphic devices, and model the onset and progression of complex diseases as dynamical rewiring of transcriptional, signaling, and proteostasis networks.