Scientific Concept

The main part of the research program is dedicated to the development of new theoretical methods and their application to the analysis and reconstruction of molecular networks involved in cellular sensing and response. Research is performed on experimental model systems, on mammalian cells challenged by infection, and on cells of the immune system. The Center conducts research in systems biology in an international competitive fashion and aims at becoming a breeding point for young researchers working in the field of Systems Biology. To achieve these goals, a high quality educational systems biology graduate program will be set up on top of the already existing study programs Biosystemtechnik (Biosystems Engineering), Technical Cybernetics and Computer Mathematics. In addition, a new chair for Systems Biology and several independent junior research groups will be installed within the Center, all of which will address biological questions of high scientific or practical relevance by using and developing advanced experimental and computational methods of systems biology, engineering and mathematics.

A hallmark of the Magdeburg Systems Biology Research Center is the expertise in systems theory and systems engineering and the combination of continuous and discrete mathematical modelling of all kinds of biological networks. This offers the potential to apply these theoretical methods and tools to the experimental analysis of biological systems of different levels of complexity, which are already established by research groups in Magdeburg. The sequence of complexity is characterized by procaryotes (Escherichia coli and Rhodospirillum rubrum), eucaryotic model systems (Physarum polycephalum and Saccharomyces cerevisiae), mammalian cells (T-cells, epithelial cells, neural cells) and complex processes like infection and cell differentiation (T-cells or ephithelial cells infected with Helicobacter pylori or an influenza virus).

The research program significantly contributes to our understanding of the structure and dynamics of molecular networks involved in cellular sensing and response, controling cell differentiation, proliferation or apoptosis, for example. This includes cellular processes related to infection and immunity, illustrating the potential of the proposed project for medical relevant problems. The goal is the establishment of new, broadly applicable concepts for modelling and systems analysis which are applicable to different levels of molecular and functional complexity. After funding by the Federal Ministry of Education MaCS will become part of the research center Dynamic Systems in Biosystems Engineering, an essential element of the Excellence Initiative of Saxony-Anhalt.