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Annu Rev Immunol. 2011;29:527-85. doi: 10.1146/annurev-immunol-030409-101317.

Systems biology in immunology: a computational modeling perspective.

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Program in Systems Immunology and Infectious Disease Modeling, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, Laboratory of Immunology, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20892, USA.


Systems biology is an emerging discipline that combines high-content, multiplexed measurements with informatic and computational modeling methods to better understand biological function at various scales. Here we present a detailed review of the methods used to create computational models and to conduct simulations of immune function. We provide descriptions of the key data-gathering techniques employed to generate the quantitative and qualitative data required for such modeling and simulation and summarize the progress to date in applying these tools and techniques to questions of immunological interest, including infectious disease. We include comments on what insights modeling can provide that complement information obtained from the more familiar experimental discovery methods used by most investigators and the reasons why quantitative methods are needed to eventually produce a better understanding of immune system operation in health and disease.

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