Systems and Synthetic Biology (SSB) are two newly emergent fields that combine experimental and theoretical approaches from engineering and other disciplines to solve both fundamental and applied problems in the biosciences and medicine.
Systems Biology attempts to understand how biological processes, within cells, a group of cells, or an entire tissue work at the ‘network level’, and generally seeks to determine how biological components (e.g., genes, proteins, and biochemical reactions) interact to produce defined physiological responses and behaviors. Ultimately, this multi-scale understanding of biological systems is central to gaining a better understanding of the causes and progression of human diseases, and promises to lead to new therapeutic strategies that can be increasingly personalized.
Synthetic Biology is the purposeful design of biological systems possessing new functional properties, typically using molecular genetic parts. Approaches range from the engineering of novel proteins to the creation of artificial gene networks that can process information, sense and respond to complex set of environmental cues, and produce industrially important commodities for biological or biomedical applications.
The SSB research areas are tightly related through the use of quantitative experimental and theoretical approaches to characterize biological networks and to understand emergent functional relationships and behaviors.