Towards Better Standards for Systems Biology

25. August 2011

In the second COMBINE workshop (03.-07.09.2011 in Heidelberg), scientists aim at refining important description standards for systems biology
Systems biology brings together experimental and theoretical methods in order to conduct research on entire organ systems. In doing so, the researchers gain data from different sources and in different formats. In order to combine these heterogeneous data, numerous standards were developed in recent years. Each of these standards covers a certain subarea of systems biology. For example, there is the Systems Biology Markup Language (SBML), an exchange format for biological computer models, or Biological Pathway Exchange (BioPAX), a standard for biological pathways. The problem is that the different standards have been developed independently from each other.
This is where the international Computational Modeling in Biology Network (COMBINE) initiative comes in. Its aim is to develop compatible standards and to coordinate the standards which already exist. From September 3rd to September 7th 2011, more than 80 scientists from 13 countries will meet for the second COMBINE workshop in the Studio Villa Bosch in Heidelberg. The meeting in Heidelberg follows the International Conference on Systems Biology (ICSB) Heidelberg/Mannheim. The upcoming COMBINE meeting is already the second workshop of the initiative; the first one took place in Edinburgh in 2010.
The program of the five-day meeting includes numerous sessions on topics such as mathematical model semantics, biological pathway semantics or visual representation. The scientists aim at refining and improving the existing description standards. Keynote Speakers are Prof. Michael White (University of Liverpool/University of Manchester) and Peer Bork (EMBL).
Host of the meeting is the Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Studies (HITS). As data volumes in natural sciences grow exponentially, the HITS strives to support and enhance the data-driven science with computational methods, simulations and data management.
The detailed program of the workshop and further information can be accessed at

Press contact:
Dr. Peter Saueressig
Head of Communications
Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Studies (HITS)
Phone: +49-6221-533245
Twitter: @HITStudies

About HITS

HITS, the Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Studies, was established in 2010 by physicist and SAP co-founder Klaus Tschira (1940-2015) and the Klaus Tschira Foundation as a private, non-profit research institute. HITS conducts basic research in the natural, mathematical, and computer sciences. Major research directions include complex simulations across scales, making sense of data, and enabling science via computational research. Application areas range from molecular biology to astrophysics. An essential characteristic of the Institute is interdisciplinarity, implemented in numerous cross-group and cross-disciplinary projects. The base funding of HITS is provided by the Klaus Tschira Foundation.

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