We study the molecular networks inside cells that give rise to cell behaviour. We focus on the principles and general understanding of how those networks adapt in response to environmental and genetic changes. We combine mathematical modelling, theory, and experiments.
Examples of the type of research questions we ask are:
- How do networks rewire when cells are confronted with new conditions?
- How do networks and regulatory molecules integrate multiple signals?
- How does the inevitable stochasticity of molecular processes affect network behaviour?
- Can we characterise the optimal states of (metabolic) networks under different selective pressures?
- How do biochemical and physical constraints at the level of molecules constrain the evolution of molecular networks?
- How can microorganisms uncouple catabolic from anabolic activity to enhance stress protein synthesis or production of biotechnological compounds?
- How capable are gene and signalling networks in steering metabolic networks towards desired states?
What makes this lab (and other molecular systems biology labs) different from classical experimental labs is that we rarely focus on a single biological system, but rather work on several different ones. This is possible, because the underlying kinetic and physical principles are always the same across molecular systems; only the functionality of these systems vary. It is this functionality that molecular systems biology aims to understand in molecular and genetic terms. Remarkably, an important finding of systems biology is that precise knowledge of the molecular properties is often not required for understanding of network functionality.
We are part of the Systems Bioinformatics Section with the additional PIs Dr Douwe Molenaar and Dr Rob van Spanning and headed by Prof Dr Bas Teusink.