Systems biology (2019/2020)

Course code
Name of lecturers
Carlo Laudanna, Gabriela Constantin
Carlo Laudanna
Number of ECTS credits allocated
Other available courses
Academic sector
Language of instruction
II semestre dal Mar 2, 2020 al Jun 12, 2020.

Lesson timetable

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Learning outcomes

The class will provide the students with an overview of different aspects of Systems Biology applied to life and medical science. The class will be initially focused on general aspects of Systems Biology, including the concepts of complexity, emergent properties, abstraction, mathematical modeling and biological networks. the course will provide a number of examples regarding general principles and methods typical of systems biology, data-bases and software widely used in the field. Furthermore, in the course we will introduce as propaedeutic background, some examples of complex systems in biology, including signal transduction and metabolic networks. In the second part of the course we will proceed with the description of complex systems relevant to medicine, such as the immune systems, autoimmune diseases and cancer in the context of systems biology. Several examples will be explained and extensively illustrated. Moreover, a general view of systems biology in the context of a transition toward personalized medicine will be proposed. In the context of the degree, the class will provide the necessary bases to understand the interdisciplinary nature of biomedicine and bioinformatics.


General concepts - foundations:

1) Complexity: definition, origin and nature of complexity in biology
2) The “emergent properties” of biological systems: the cellular and molecular circuits
3) Science based on thesis and the deductive method; science based on experimental data the inductive method
4) Systems Biology: definition and experimental connotation of Systems Biology
5) Why Systems Biology? The reductionist approach versus the holistic approach
6) The concept of model: predict the future in biology?
7) Static models: the network abstraction and the topological properties of biological networks
8) Dynamic models and biological kinetics

Methods in Systems Biology:

9) High-performance technologies (high throughput methods)
10) Bioinformatics
11) Biological database
12) Software for systems biology
13) Contexts of Systems Biology: transcriptomics, proteomics, metabolomics, etc.

Systems Biology in practice - applications of Systems Biology to biomedical contexts:

14) Networks and diseases
15) The immune system
16) Inflammatory mechanisms
17) Cancer
18) Neurodegenerative diseases
19) Autoimmune diseases
20) Systems pharmacology and drug discovery

Teaching methods consist of frontal lessons devoted to the transmission of basic and applied notions, as well as in computer exercises with tasks that will be assigned to students in order to apply the notions learned during lessons. The exercises will be performed at the Center for Computational Biomedicine (CBMC) of the University.

Reference books
Author Title Publisher Year ISBN Note
Masao Nagasaki • Ayumu Saito • Atsushi Doi Hiroshi Matsuno • Satoru Miyano Foundations of Systems Biology Springer 2007 978-1-84882-022-7

Assessment methods and criteria

Written with multiple answer questions. Score will be in thirty, 18 to 30. The exam will test theoretic land applied skills useful to the study of physio-pathplogical processes, also in the context of specific examples of human pathologies.