Robert Rosen in the Age of Systems Biology


  • S. Randall Thomas

    1. IBISC (Informatics, Integrative Biology, and Complex Systems), FRE 2873 CNRS/University of Evry Val d'Essonne, Tour Evry 2, 4ème étage, 523 Place des Terraces de l'Agora, F-91000 Evry, (phone: +33-1-6087-3928; fax: +33-1-6087-3789)
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The widespread use of the term Systems Biology (SB) signals a welcome recognition that organisms must be understood as integrated systems. Although just what this is taken to mean varies from one group to another, it generally implies a focus on biological functions and processes rather than on biological parts and a reliance on mathematical modeling to arrive at an understanding of these biological processes based on biological observations or measurements. SB, thus, falls directly in the line of reflection carried out by Robert Rosen throughout his work. In the present article, we briefly introduce the various currents of SB and then point out several ways Rosen's work can be used to avoid certain pitfalls associated with the use of dynamical systems models for the study of complex systems, as well as to inspire a productive path forward based on loosely organized cooperation among dispersed laboratories.