I was in London on Friday for the latest progress meeting of the SysMIC project. It’s a project funded by the BBSRC as a resource for members of its research community: from graduates beginning their career through to established researchers wishing to improve their skills in mathematical and systems biology.
At the moment it’s being ‘road-tested’ by some early adopter PhD students (and by me, the only member of the team with what might be classed as ‘rusty’ mathematical skills). At the end of our meeting, we wandered over to the computing lab to chat to these students, who all seemed to be engaging really well. It goes live to registered members of the BBSRC research community in January 2013 – the first cohort of students are PhD students in the new Doctoral Training Partnerships.
I tend to focus more on the mathematical aspects of SysMIC: partly this reflects applications of this kind of training in the biological sciences, and partly because I perceive a rather changeable definition of ‘Systems Biology’. I prefer to think in terms of developing models and using those in a predictive way to design and interpret experiments (my own definition of Systems Biology would be of mathematical modelling that integrates multiple and diverse data sources to model complex systems).
I’m working through the material that’s been prepared so far, and having fun with MatLab, the mathematics platform we chose for SysMIC, and while I have to say I’ve yet to move on to anything mathematically serious, I can see how a more mathematical approach could benefit my own research.