Systems Biology is a relatively new scientific disciplin that aims at understanding living systems in terms of the underlying chemical and physical processes and the involved feedback regulations at different time and space scales.
Our main interest is the application of nonlinear dynamics and complex systems theory to living systems ranging from the intracellular metabolic processes over cellular communication, tissue properties and the regulation of functional units, to the control of macrophysiological and hormonal systems.
At the same time, we collaborate with leading Russian mathematicians and physicists in more theoretical investigations of nonlinear dynamics and chaos theory. In the last couple of years, particular efforts have been devoted to the study of different aspects of chaos synchronization and phase multistability. We have also developed a number of new techniques for nonlinear time-series analysis.
In the biological realm we have worked in close collaboration with leading medical and biological research institutes on model formulation and bifurcation analysis of the insulin-glucose regulation system, problems in connection with HIV-vaccine development, treatment of osteoporosis, and insulin absorption from the skin. We have also studied respiratory control and procedures for a successful gene-treatment of AIDS. In recent years the focus has shifted toward the analysis of pancreatic alpha and beta cells, smooth muscle cells, nerve cells, and interacting nerve cells. A particularly important project has been the formulation of increasingly accurate models of nephron pressure and flow regulation and of synchronization between interacting nephrons. The nephron is the functional unit of the kidney, and changes of the nephronic regulation are considered to play an important role in the development of cardiovascular diseases.
A review of some of this work may be found in our recent books. A more detailed account of some of our present projects may be found under research projects. The group is also involved in the coordination of an EU-sponsored Network of Excellence in Biosimulation - A New Approach to Drug Development. The purpose of this network is to show how the use of mechanism based modeling of human biological systems can contribute to the faster development of new and safe drugs.
The figure shows a so-called phase-height diagram of a nerve cell obtained by interference microscopy.