Modelling living systems - From foundational problems to applications

In many ways the engine of the Digital Life ambition is useful models of living systems that can explain and predict their system behaviour. Critical and constructive discussion of modelling approaches is accordingly of key importance. We will therefore also this year arrange a workshop where this is in focus.

Guest lecturer: Dominique Chu, University of Kent

Organizers and tutors: Roger Strand and Rune Kleppe, DLN

Target audiences:

  • Researchers who engage in modelling of biological systems
  • Researchers in biology, biotechnology and life sciences
  • Researchers interested in complex systems

Number of participants: Max 20

Fee: None. The event is sponsored by Digital Life Norway and NORBIS. Researchers affiliated with Digital Life Norway projects and/or NORBIS will have priority.

About the workshop

Background – The Digital Life Initiative

The Digital Life Norway initiative aims at convergence between life sciences and more exact sciences such as mathematics, physics and engineering. Its vision is that the emerging scientific approaches will lead to improved understanding of biological systems and improved ability to control or manipulate such systems with the aim of solving societal challenges. Improved methods and models of biological systems is in this way imagined to improve our abilities to treat diseases; manage our influence on marine and terrestrial ecosystems; create food in a sustainable manner; produce bio-products and bio-processes that improves the sustainability of living for a growing human population, etc. Furthermore, the initiative is hoped to result in increased value creation that will strengthen the bioeconomy in Norway.

This is the bold ambition of Digital Life. In many ways the engine of this ambition is useful models of living systems that can explain and predict system behaviour. Critical and constructive discussion of modelling approaches is accordingly of key importance. This is why the work group on competence and infrastructure of DLN, together with the work group on Responsible Research and Innovation, invites again to a workshop on these issues (the first such workshop being held in 2017).

Modelling living systems

There are many challenges of modelling living systems. Organisms are complex systems, different from simple mechanical systems in many ways. They are thermodynamically open with complex structures and processes that span a large range of scales both in size and time. This is complicated by (and related to) the self-sustained, self-regulating, replicating and evolving properties of organisms that continuously monitor their environment and their internal state to adapt molecular processes inside and outside in response to their “measurements”. This happens spontaneously – by itself, which is difficult (or impossible?) to replicate in a model.

How can we deal with these fundamental difficulties? What are the challenges we are facing in the modelling activities in our research project? How should we best execute the modelling process and how can different modelling approaches and architectures be used to overcome some of the challenges and improve the usefulness of the models we create? The aim of this workshop is to create a forum where such fundamental issues and difficulties can be reflected on and discussed openly.

Participants are encouraged to present their own models for discussion. This will be a central part of the workshop. Participants will also be requested to submit material and questions to the organizers before the workshop so that the discussion can be well prepared.

The workshop is supported by the DLN Research School and NORBIS.

Tentative programme

Tuesday 11. December 

11:30-12:45   Introduction over light lunch 

13:00-14:30   Overview of modelling approaches and architectures

14:30-17:00   Challenges of modelling

Wednesday 12. December

09:00-10:30  Purpose and quality criteria for models. Explanatory power, prediction and engineering

11:00-12:00  Analysing participants’ models – I

12:00-12:45  Lunch

13:00-14:30  Analysing participants’ models – II

14:30-15:00  Summary and conclusion

For registration, follow this link.


Tags: Workshop, Forskerskolen
Published Oct. 8, 2020 1:38 PM - Last modified Oct. 20, 2020 3:20 PM