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From network to system

The MPS Founding Director of the new Institute is mathematics professor Andreas Dress, formerly of the University of Bielefeld and the Max Planck Institute for Mathematics in the Sciences. The Chinese Co-Director is population geneticist Prof. Li Jin, from the University of Cincinnati/College of Medicine, USA, who is also a professor at Fudan University in Shanghai. Prof. Dress will head the Department of Combinatorial Geometry, which will focus its studies on network interaction between proteins and metabolic products in healthy and diseased cells. Prof. Li Jin's Department of Genetics and Bioinformatics, on the other hand, aims to examine the molecular evolution of human populations and to identify the genetic basis of complex human diseases. The Partner Institute will work closely with experimental and biomathematics research institutes in China and Germany, as well as in other countries. The foundation ceremony was held in Shanghai on May 25, 2005.

"Nothing is more practical than a good theory." To some extent, this quote from Ludwig Boltzmann is the new Institute's guiding theme since, more and more, modern biology is being permeated by an information-based view of understanding life processes. In one cell alone, tens of thousands of molecules at different locations act simultaneously in various concentrations. How does this "molecular white noise" yield information? How does it generate signals or receive, suppress or transmit signals from the environment? How does this manifold collection of molecules result in life?

To find answers to such questions, scientists today are trying to understand these life processes as a whole as a system. However, this endeavor generates ever-increasing quantities of data that need to be analyzed in order to uncover new findings about an organism. This is where the new theoretical and mathematical approaches and computer modeling of such systems come in.

Understanding complex processes in biomolecular n
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Contact: Dr. Barbara Spielmann
spielmann@gv.mpg.de
49-89-2108-1365
Max-Planck-Gesellschaft
22-Jun-2005


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