Quantitative and Qualitative Systems Biotechnology:Analysis Needs and Synthesis Approaches

Vassily Hatzimanikatis
Department of Chemical Engineering
Northwestern University
Evanston, IL

Current knowledge of biological systems is composed of a vast set ofdata that accumulate with an increasing rate. Advances in analyticalmethods and development of sophisticated techniques and instrumentationhave provided the tools that allow us to know more than we can understand.However, it is well understood that living organisms are characterized byhigh complexity. This complexity increases from unicellular organisms toisolated tissue cells and multicellular structures, such as tissues andorgans. The development of tools and frameworks that will organize theavailable biological knowledge and will help in the analysis,understanding, and redesign of biological systems is of immediateimportance. A hierarchy of mathematical structures and computationalapproaches for utilizing experimental information to derive insights intocell function and for design of improved function will be presented. Theseapproaches can be quantitative or qualitative and they can provide withpredictive power or constructive guidance. The pros and cons of thedifferent approaches will be set forth for discussion.