4M approach
4M approach

The human genome project inspired the development of high throughput, low cost omics technologies. We can now sequence a microbe in a morning and do a comprehensive molecular inventory (expressed genes, proteins, metabolites) in a week. Thousands of healthy and aberrant human tissue samples are being sequenced to determine diversity of normal and aberrant human genomes and their expression. Further, we are rapidly moving towards producing complete molecular inventories for each individual cell in an organism.

Enumerating the components in a biological system does not yield understanding in itself. Systems biology uses systems sciences, modeling and simulation to integrate the data streams and convert them into knowledge. As applied systems biologist or systems biotechnologists, however, we do more than developing tools for better understanding (analysis); we use these tools to design products and processes for human benefit (synthesis). We are rapidly moving from retrofitting living systems with a single or few genes using genetic engineering, to the design of living systems from scratch using systems and synthetic biology.


Our approach is captured in the classical 4M framework (manipulate, measure, mine and model) with its two dimensions: dry versus wet biology and synthesis versus analysis. At AIBN Systems & Synthetic Biology, we work both on developing the fundamentals of this emerging science and its application to a broad range of living systems. Moreover, we work closely with colleagues in other disciplines and a number of companies interested in pursuing emerging opportunities in this field.

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