Tuesday, 16 September 2008
Mechanistic Explanation in Top-down Systems Biology
Ulrich Krohs, University of Hamburg
12:05 pm, 817R Cathedral of Learning
Abstract: Top-down systems biology investigates large biological networks, paradigmatically of cellular scale. An indispensable step in modeling such networks is their decomposition into sub-networks or modules. Modularization uses either functional, i.e., physiological criteria, or structural criteria. The structural account might be expected to unravel the mechanisms that realize the physiological capacities of the cell. It turns out, however, that structural and functional modules usually do not coincide and consequently that mechanisms do not seem to explain physiology in this case. I will discuss some epistemological implications of this disturbing observation.