For the fourth consecutive year, the workshop entitled “Winter School in Systems Biology” was held at Instituto Superior Técnico (IST), within the scope of the ERASMUS MUNDUS EuSysBio Master’s program in Systems Biology. This prestigious program, under the coordination of Prof. Isabel Sá-Correia at IST, is sponsored by an Erasmus Mundus grant from the EACEA (Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency), European Commission, and results from a consortium between the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH), in Stockholm (Sweden), the IST, in Lisbon and the Aalto University, in Helsinki (Finland). The euSYSBIO Masters´program is pioneering the training of top rank students, selected from around the world, in the new exciting field of Systems Biology, combining cutting-edge genome-wide technologies with computer sciences and computational biology to answer key biological questions with relevance in the fields of Life Sciences, Health Sciences and Biotechnology.
This year, the Winter School, organized by Isabel Sá-Correia and Miguel Cacho Teixeira, hosted renowned scientists in the field, including Prof. Erik Aurell, the Director of the EuSysBio program, Prof. Juho Rouso, the coordinator of the course at Aalto University, Prof. Jinzhi Lei and Prof. Yuheng Lan, from the Zhou Pei-Yuan Center for Applied Mathematics and from the Physics Department of the Tsinghua University, in China, respectively, coordinators of the participation of Tsinghua University in the EuSysBio consortium. These guest lecturers provided key insights into stochastic modeling in Systems Biology and methods to retrieve information from network models, based on graph decomposition. It further included the contribution of Prof. Daniel Huson, from the Center for Bioinformatics (ZBIT), Department of Computer Science, University of Tuebingen, Germany, on the development of bioinformatics tools for metagenomics data analysis, one of the hot topics considered by the Horizon 2020 programme.
Sessions devoted to research in Functional Genomics, Computational Biology, Imaging, Dynamic Energy Budget Theory and Entrepreneurship carried out at IST were also included, counting with the support from researchers of four Associated Laboratories linked to IST: IBB (Institute for Biotechnology and Bioengineering), INESC-ID (Instituto de Engenharia de Sistemas e Computadores – Investigação e Desenvolvimento), ISR (Instituto de Sistemas e Robótica) and LARSyS (Laboratório de Robótica e Sistemas em Engenharia e Ciência).
This event enabled among students and scientists with a strong background in both computer and biological sciences to share experiences and plan joint research in this fascinating new field of Systems Biology, which appears to be the only way to progressively increase our understanding of biological systems to a full, integrative, systems-wide level.