School of Biosciences and Medicine

Section of Systems Biology

Learn about our Section of Systems Biology, whose members conduct world-leading research underpinning health and industrial biotechnology. 

Using a combination of experimental and computational approaches, we aim to understand, predict, and ultimately control how biological systems function.

Experimental System Biology

To provide novel insights into how biological systems function, and to validate the predictions made through computational biology, we undertake in vitro experiments. These include both bacterial (Avignone-Rossa, Jimenez) and mammalian (Plant, Gerber) systems.

For bacterial systems, Dr Claudio Avignone and Dr Jose Jimenez are interested in the metabolic and genetic engineering of microorganisms. They aim to optimize bacterial function, for example to increase the production of compounds of medical and industrial interest.

For mammalian systems, Dr Nick Plant’s research focusses on the the signaling networks that regulate gene expression, and which go wrong in diseases such as cancer and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

Professor André Gerber is exploring the global and specific aspects of post-transcriptional gene regulation mediated by RNA-binding proteins and non-coding RNAs.

Computational Systems Biology

There now exists a large legacy of experimental biology data. However, due to its complexity we have only just scratched the surface of the novel biological insights possible from it. Through computational and mathematical modelling, we aim to gain maximal benefit from this data deluge.

Dr Andrea Rocco is interested in noise propagation across molecular networks, critical phenomena in living systems, and stochastic dynamics in cell differentiation. He aims to understand the balance between biological variability and individual robustness.

Dr Emma Laing’s research focuses on the development of novel algorithms for high-throughput ~omics (transcriptomics, translatomics, proteomics etc.) analysis. She has applied these techniques to provide novel insights into host-pathogen interactions, and the impact of sleep and circadian biology on human health

Dr Nick Plant and Dr Claudio Avignone Rossa use genome-scale metabolic networks of human and bacterial biology, respectively.

Dr Plant applies these approaches to generating dynamic models of human disease, with the aim of identifying improved therapeutic interventions and biomarkers.

Dr Rossa uses metabolic models to predict optimal growth conditions for the production of compounds of medical and industrial interest in bacteria.  

Synthetic Biology

The design and engineering of biological systems and living organisms for the purpose of improving applications for industry or biological research is th overarching aim of synthetic biology.

Dr Jose Jimenez is interested in applying experimental evolution engineering in bacterial systems, combining simple genetic circuits to produce emergent properties that allow complex functions to be performed.

People in the Section of Systems Biology

Section lead

Name Role
Professor André Gerber  Professor of RNA Biology

Section members

Name Role
Dr Claudio Avignone Rossa Reader in Systems Microbiology
Dr Nick Plant Reader in Systems Biology
Dr Emma Laing Lecturer in Bioinformatics
Dr Jose Jimenez Lecturer in Synthetic Biology
Dr Andrea Rocco Lecturer in Mathematical Biology