Workshop on Information Processing in the Biological Organism (A Systems Biology Approach)

November 4-5, 2003
Four Points Sheraton, Bethesda, Maryland (5 minutes walk from NIH)


Fred S. Roberts, Chair, DIMACS / Rutgers University,
Eduardo Sontag, Co-chair, Rutgers University,

Christine Spassione , DIMACS / Rutgers University,
The workshop will be a "satellite" meeting prior to the NIH Biomedical Information Science and Technology Initiative (BISTI) Symposium, "Digital Biology: the Emerging Paradigm" to be held November 6 and 7, 2003 in Natcher Auditorium on the main NIH campus. See URL:

Presented under the auspices of the Special Focus on Computational Molecular Biology and sponsored by the National Science Foundation.


The workshop will investigate information processing in biological organisms from the general point of view of systems biology. Traditional biological research has aimed to understand isolated parts of a cell or organism. It has achieved dramatic technological breakthroughs in understanding genes and proteins. The potential for dramatic new biological knowledge arises from investigating the complex interactions of many different levels of biological information. This is the heart of the systems approach to biology. It is aimed at studying genomic DNA, mRNA, proteins, and informational pathways and informational networks in conjunction, looking for "system-level" understanding. Systems biology requires an understanding of the basic system structures (the networks of gene interactions and biochemical pathways) and it requires an understanding of the dynamics of systems - how they change over time through metabolic changes, modifications in biochemical makeup, etc. Understanding the biological systems from this point of view can be greatly aided by the use of powerful mathematical and computer models. In turn, the systems understanding of biological systems can provide insights that might be useful for computer and information science.


Information processing is a key aspect of biological systems and the workshop will concentrate on this aspect of systems biology. In general terms, the workshop will seek to answer the following questions:

(1). What model systems concerning information processing in the biological organism are of broad utility to systems biology?
(2). What are the mathematical foundations relevant to the systems biology approach to the study of information processing in biological organisms, and specifically what algorithms are of broad and central utility for this topic?
(3). What is the next generation of reference resources needed for research in this field?
(4). How can the study of selected information processing processes within biological systems inform other disciplines, including computer science?

The workshop will be organized around four main topics:

(a). Genetics to gene-product information flows, including temporal and spatial aspects.
(b). Signal fusion within the cell.
(c). Cell-to-cell communication.
(d). Information flow at the system level, including environmental interaction.

Next: Call for Participation
Workshop Index
DIMACS Homepage
Contacting the Center
Document last modified on August 13, 2003.