'SystemsX' – Project for a New Biological Science in Switzerland


  • Gian-Reto Plattner




Interdisciplinary approach, Life sciences, New biology, Swiss federal institute of technology ethz, Systems biology, 'systemsx', University of basel, University of zurich


The understanding of a complex biological system requires an interdisciplinary approach; systems biology, wholly integrating various sciences including biology, physics, mathematics, informatics, chemistry, microelectronics, micromechatronics, as well as information-, bio- and nanotechnologies. Systems biology is a highly interactive scientific approach to biological research. It deals with the quantitative analysis of entire biological systems by investigating all components and networks of a given system. Dynamic computer models make it possible to simulate and change the properties of a cell, and potentially the whole organism. The general strategy of systems biology is the use of iterative cycles of experiment, modelling and prediction as they have been used successfully in the exact sciences such as physics and chemistry. If this approach succeeds in systems biology, this apparent paradigm change will transform today's biology from a predominantly descriptive science into an exact science. The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, ETHZ, the Universities of Basel and Zürich as well as the research-oriented Swiss pharma industry stand together to develop systems biology in Switzerland. Their project named 'SystemsX' aims at obtaining worldwide competitive size as well as the role of a powerful global player. Economic and social needs provide the driving forces for entering this new, exciting area of research. Confederation, cantons, national research agencies and industry are the pillars for financing this major bridgehead from biology to the other disciplines.




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