The Centre for Systems and Synthetic Biology
The Centre for Systems and Synthetic Biology at Brunel University is a Research Centre that creates the interdisciplinary environment necessary to bring together the expertise needed to address the major challenges of biological sciences in the 21st Century. The Centre is a joint enterprise between the School of Information Systems, Computing and Mathematics (SISCM) and the School of Health Sciences and Social Care (SHSSC), and in future will involve the School for Engineering Design, Institute for the Environment, Health and Societies and the Centre for Sports Medicine and Human Performance, fostering interaction and collaborations between these schools and the other Schools and Research Centres across the Brunel Campus University.
The interdisciplinary nature of the Centre is emphasized and reinforced by co-directorships spanning the two lead strands, by David Gilbert, Professor of Computing Science and Head of SISCM and Nigel Saunders, Interdisciplinary Chair of Systems Biology, who has a predominantly biomedical, molecular biology, and genomics background. Together they have established a range of ‘wet’ and ‘dry’ collaborations across the University, and with research groups beyond Brunel.
At the heart of the systems biology is the concept of the ‘emergent properties’ of living things. In other words the complex outcomes and properties that living systems have due to the interactions, structure, and coordination of their component parts. In this aspect it serves as a complementary balance and a point for synthesis and new understanding for the findings of the reductionist scientific approaches that have characterized much of bioscience research in the 20th Century. Synthetic Biology seeks to design, modify and build new living systems, which is also characterized by an interdisciplinary approach; bringing the concepts of engineering to practical biological problems and applications. Synthetic biology has natural synergy with systems biology, because it exploits the insights gained through the systems biology approach, and in-turn generates research tools with which to study the effects of specific modifications on whole system behaviour.
Major research areas