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Integr Biol (Camb). 2011 Feb;3(2):86-96. doi: 10.1039/c0ib00075b. Epub 2011 Jan 6.

Multi-scale modelling and simulation in systems biology.

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Manchester Centre for Integrative Systems Biology, MIB, UK.


The aim of systems biology is to describe and understand biology at a global scale where biological functions are recognised as a result of complex mechanisms that happen at several scales, from the molecular to the ecosystem. Modelling and simulation are computational tools that are invaluable for description, prediction and understanding these mechanisms in a quantitative and integrative way. Therefore the study of biological functions is greatly aided by multi-scale methods that enable the coupling and simulation of models spanning several spatial and temporal scales. Various methods have been developed for solving multi-scale problems in many scientific disciplines, and are applicable to continuum based modelling techniques, in which the relationship between system properties is expressed with continuous mathematical equations or discrete modelling techniques that are based on individual units to model the heterogeneous microscopic elements such as individuals or cells. In this review, we survey these multi-scale methods and explore their application in systems biology.

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