The Helmholtz Alliance on Systems Biology
Understanding organisms as a whole
The Helmholtz Alliance on Systems Biology is a network consisting of six Helmholtz Centres, university partners and companies that conduct research.
The Alliance aims to contribute to a better understanding of complex diseases such as cancer and nervous and cardiovascular disorders and to identify new intervention strategies.
- Duration: January 2007 to December 2012
- Total funding: €24 million
- Lead centre: German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ)
- Spokesperson: Prof. Roland Eils
- Participating Helmholtz Centres: DKFZ, FZJ, HMGU, MDC, UFZ, HZI
- Partner institutes: European Molecular Biology Laboratory Heidelberg, Eawag: Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology (Switzerland), DFG-Research Center for Regenerative Therapies (CRTD) Dresden
- Universities: Dresden, Düsseldorf, Freiburg, Heidelberg, LMU Munich, Stuttgart, Rostock.
Rather than looking at individual genes, cells or proteins in isolation, systems biology deals with biological systems as a whole and seeks to understand how the separate components work together and what causes dysfunctions. Mathematical models and computer simulations serve as tools to illuminate the interaction between genes and proteins, and the communication processes and signalling pathways within and between cells. Basic research of this kind allows scientists to gain a better understanding of how subsystems come together to make organisms function, what triggers proliferation processes and how cell death is programmed.
Focuses in the Helmholtz Alliance on Systems Biology include examining signal transmission processes in cancer cells, the molecular basis of neurodegenerative and cardiovascular diseases, the influence of contaminants on cell metabolism, the role of non-coding RNA in regulatory networks, neuronal structure and function in the brain and the modelling of brain functions.
The Alliance provides training for young researchers and technology platforms for all partners, with the aim of advancing the field of systems biology throughout Germany and worldwide. Over the long term, the Alliance hopes to apply the findings in the diagnosis, prevention and therapy of many widespread diseases.
Coordinator to the Helmholtz Alliance on Systems Biology
German Cancer Research Centre
+49 6221 42-3623
j.eufinger (at) dkfz.de