Biosystems engineering focuses on the integration of molecular biology, protein engineering and high throughput technologies with systems modeling methodological approaches. It aims at: a) first obtaining a complete (vs by parts) understanding of the biological system, from the molecular up to the cell population level and b) developing and applying strategies to engineer (design, optimize and control) its performance in general.
Recent advances in information biology and techniques to monitor and modify systems at the molecular scale provide unprecedented opportunities to model and then tailor biochemical systems for medical and industrial applications. Previous research in the biosciences area has focused on understanding the relationship between inputs and outputs in biological systems without detailed knowledge of the internal workings of the biological system. However, newly developed experimental tools provide unique opportunities for probing the details of complex biological systems. The goal now is not just to understand the functions of individual genes, proteins and smaller molecules like hormones, but to learn how all of these molecules interact within the cell, as well as how cells function as components of cell populations and tissues.
Motivated by these challenges and opportunities, Professor Zygourakis is collaborating with a group of faculty from the Departments of Biosciences, Bioengineering, Computational and Applied Mathematics, Statistics, and Chemistry to develop novel frameworks that combine experimental, theoretical and computational tools to study heterogeneous cell populations as complex, and highly interconnected systems with interacting components. This novel systems-based approach will change the design principles used to develop effective drugs, tissues with desirable structure, materials with novel properties, and other bio-based, environmentally friendly, and sustainable technologies.