Strategies for structuring interdisciplinary education in systems biology: An European perspective
Journal article, 2016

Systems Biology is an approach to biology and medicine that has the potential to lead to a better understanding of how biological properties emerge from the interaction of genes, proteins, molecules, cells and organisms. The approach aims at elucidating how these interactions govern biological function by employing experimental data, mathematical models and computational simulations. As Systems Biology is inherently multidisciplinary, education within this field meets numerous hurdles including departmental barriers, availability of all required expertise locally, appropriate teaching material and example curricula. As university education at the Bachelor’s level is traditionally built upon disciplinary degrees, we believe that the most effective way to implement education in Systems Biology would be at the Master’s level, as it offers a more flexible framework. Our team of experts and active performers of Systems Biology education suggest here (i) a definition of the skills that students should acquire within a Master’s programme in Systems Biology, (ii) a possible basic educational curriculum with flexibility to adjust to different application areas and local research strengths, (iii) a description of possible career paths for students who undergo such an education, (iv) conditions that should improve the recruitment of students to such programmes and (v) mechanisms for collaboration and excellence spreading among education professionals. With the growing interest of industry in applying Systems Biology approaches in their fields, a concerted action between academia and industry is needed to build this expertise. Here we present a reflection of the European situation and expertise, where most of the challenges we discuss are universal, anticipating that our suggestions will be useful internationally. We believe that one of the overriding goals of any Systems Biology education should be a student’s ability to phrase and communicate research questions in such a manner that they can be solved by the integration of experiments and modelling, as well as to communicate and collaborate productively across different experimental and theoretical disciplines in research and development.

Systems biology



Marija Cvijovic

Chalmers, Mathematical Sciences, Applied Mathematics and Statistics

Thomas Höfer

German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ)

Jure Aćimović

University of Ljubljana

Lilia Alberghina

University of Milano-Bicocca

Eivind Almaas

Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)

Daniela Besozzi

University of Milano-Bicocca

Anders Blomberg

University of Gothenburg

Till Bretschneider

The University of Warwick

Marta Cascante

University of Barcelona

Olivier Collin

Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS)

Pedro De Atauri

University of Barcelona

Cornelia Depner

German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ)

Robert Dickinson

Imperial College London

Maciej Dobrzynski

University College Dublin

Christian Fleck

Wageningen University and Research

Jordi Garcia-Ojalvo

University Pompeu Fabra

Didier Gonze

Interuniversity Institute of Bioinformatics in Brussels

Jens Hahn

Humboldt University of Berlin

Heide Marie Hess

Susanne Hollmann

LifeGlimmer GmbH

Marcus Krantz

Humboldt University of Berlin

Ursula Kummer

Heidelberg University

Torbjörn Lundh

Chalmers, Mathematical Sciences, Applied Mathematics and Statistics

Gifta Martial

Heidelberg University

Vítor Martins Dos Santos

Wageningen University and Research

Angela Mauer-Oberthür

Heidelberg University

Babette Regierer

LifeGlimmer GmbH

Barbara Skene

Imperial College London

Egils Stalidzans

University of Latvia

Jörg Stelling

Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich (ETH)

B. Teusink

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

C. T. Workman

Technical University of Denmark (DTU)

Stefan Hohmann

Chalmers, Biology and Biological Engineering

npj Systems Biology and Applications

20567189 (eISSN)

Vol. 2 16011

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