Initiators: Georg Fuellen (Rostock), Ingmar Glauche (Dresden), Carsten Marr (Munich) and Ingo Roeder (Dresden)
The computational or systems biological analysis of experimental data has become an indispensable part of modern biology in general and of stem cell biology in particular. This is immediately visible in the area of the statistical/bioinformatical analysis of molecular high-throughput data: The complexity and the huge amount of data is simply not manageable without computational methods. But also in other areas of stem cell biology it is becoming more and more evident that theoretical approaches, such as mathematical modeling and computer simulation are able to contribute essentially to the generation of new insights.
A selection of important questions that can be addressed with mathematical and/or bioinformatical methods is listed below:
- How can the vast amount of different experimental data (e.g. measurements of the transcriptom, proteome, metabolom, but also image data) be analyzed in a structured way and how can the extracted information be integrated and correctly interpreted?
- How are different regulatory components (e.g. transcription factors, signaling molecules, cell-cell interactions) linked to each other and which causal relations exist between them?
- To what extent is it possible to explain phenomena on the cellular and tissue levels (e.g. the repopulation of the differentiation potential of stem cells) on the basis of intra-cellular and molecular mechanisms.
- Can one (prospectively) classify and predict functional properties of stem cells using molecular or phenomenological characteristics?
- Are existing hypotheses/concepts/theories regarding various properties of stem cell systems quantitatively consistent with experimental findings?
To efficiently identify and address these or similar questions in close collaboration between experimentalists and theoreticians, we established the working group on “Computational stem cell biology”. This working group has the aim to bundle and to intensify the application of theoretical approaches within the GSCN and to make these approaches more visible within but also outside the GSCN. It will provide a platform, which on the one hand fosters methodological discussion within fields of mathematical modelling, bioinformatics, and biometry applied to stem cell related topics, but which on the other hand also enforces the communication and the exchange of ideas with experimentally working scientists.