Systems biology requires tight cooperation between biologists, biomedical researchers, mathematicians, physicists, chemists and (bio)informaticians. Their input is essential to integrate the available data and translate it to biological knowledge.
To bring together this expertise the Netherlands Institute of Systems Biology (NISB) was founded in 2007. In NISB SILS and IBED have bundled their forces with those of the Faculties of Earth & Life Sciences and of Sciences of VU University Amsterdam (VUA) and the Centre for Mathematics and Informatics (CWI).
Strategically NISB has had a great impact:
- it obtained a start-up grant from NWO;
- it is the initiator of the Netherlands Consortium for Systems Biology (NCSB; www.ncsb.nl) that funds within NISB a core modeling group;
- it is one of the initiators of the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI) proposal that focuses on large investments in systems biology infrastructure;
- it is participating in two large systems biololgy projects in the framework of ‘Biosolar Cells’ (www.biosolar.cells), and;
- NISB is an important participant in three European research projects on systwems biology: SysMO (www.sysmo.net), EraSysBio-Plus (www.erasysbio.net) and FINSysB (http://www.finsysb.eu/).
Examples of SILS and IBED research projects that are expected to result in important breakthroughs are:
- analysis of gene expression, epigenetic regulation of gene expression and folding of chromatin in relation to the functioning of the genome. This project is aimed at targeted modification of eukaryotic cells, tissues and organs;
- insight in mechanisms that counteract disorders related to aging resulting in healthy aging;
- sustainable production of biofuels by cyanobacteria through a process that is economically viable compared to fossil fuels;
- adaptation of plants to cope with (a)biotic stress for sustainable food production;
- gaining insight in the symbioses between the microbial gut flora and the human metabolism related to healthy food;
- understanding of the anticipation of complex ecosystems to temperature and CO2 changes related to the conservation of biodiversity, and;
- the development of vaccines against life threatening fungal infection by Candida.
The Academic Medical Centre of the University of Amsterdam has decided to join this initiative through its research that focuses on a systems biology approach of the Metabolic Syndrome, a combination of disorders that are related to obesity and the linked resistance to insulin.