Why have a Centre for Systems Biology?
Although biology is conceptually simple – understanding HOW biological systems work is very difficult as a result of their complexity.
This has been exacerbated by the onset of technologies which produce large amounts of data on biological systems. A few years ago it was felt that it was time for biologists to move away from intuition and to begin to embrace the value of methods drawn from mathematics, engineering and computer science in the analysis of biological problems. To work effectively, close dialogue is required and it is that closeness that was the inspiration for the Centre at Birmingham.
The Centre for Systems Biology is an interdisciplinary Research Centre, made possible by funding of £135k from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC). The Centre houses a dedicated 128-processor Hewlett-Packard cluster. Researchers will use this high performance cluster in the analysis of large amounts of data generated from biological experiments on gene expression and metabolism. Further research collaborations across Schools (e.g. Computer Science, Engineering, Mathematics, Medicine and others) will be facilitated by the Centre which will be a hub for multi-discipline activities.
Essentially, the Centre is a physical space that allows people from the life and physical sciences to work together and produce new ideas and effectively harness the talent on campus. The Centre is a place that promotes interaction and fertile thinking – ultimately it is this motivation for new ideas through collaboration that lies at its core.