Most biological experiments result in snapshots that illustrate select aspects of a phenomenon of interest. These snapshots may be very complicated, consisting of thousands of peaks in a mass spectrogram, the expression levels of whole genomes, or an impressive image visualizing the localization of different proteins. Yet, each result is separately frozen in time, even if experiments are performed in sequence and yield time series measurements. Extracting a storyline from these data requires a cognitive process in the form of conceptual or formal models. Among these, dynamic models have an unparalleled capability of weaving multiple, often heterogeneous biological results into chains of events with which a cell or organism responds to a change in its environment. This presentation illustrates with three vignettes the process of stitching static results into explanatory descriptions of cellular strategies.
Eberhard Voit studied at Cologne University, Germany, where he received Master’s degrees in biology and mathematics and a Ph.D. in developmental and theoretical biology. He held research and faculty positions at the University of Michigan, the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, and at the Cooperative Research Centre for Forestry in Tasmania, Australia. In 2004, he moved to the joint Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University Medical School, where he is a Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar and the David D. Flanagan Chair in Biological Systems. Voit’s research interests are in the area of complex biomedical systems, and he has been involved with the development and application of Biochemical Systems Theory (BST) for thirty-five years. Work in his lab presently focuses on genomic, metabolic, and signaling systems with applications reaching from microbial and plant systems to human diseases. Voit has authored or co-authored about two-hundred eighty scientific articles and book chapters as well as several books; two of these were translated into Chinese and one into Korean. His most recent book on systems biology, entitled The Inner Workings of Life: Vignettes in Systems Biology, addresses the educated lay population. Voit regularly receives invitations to speak at international conferences and has presented uncounted seminars and educational workshops on biological systems throughout North and South America, Europe, Asia, and Australia. Voit is an elected fellow in the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE), and the Society of Mathematical Biology (SMB). He was recently also inducted into the Royal Society of Medicine of the United Kingdom as an Overseas Fellow.