Charting a New Frontier Integrating Mathematical Modeling in Complex Biological Systems from Molecules to Ecosystems

Katharine A. White, Kira D. Mcentire, Nicole R. Buan, Lecia Robinson, Elisar Barbar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Advances in quantitative biology data collection and analysis across scales (molecular, cellular, organismal, and ecological) have transformed how we understand, categorize, and predict complex biological systems. This surge of quantitative data creates an opportunity to apply, develop, and evaluate mathematical models of biological systems and explore novel methods of analysis. Simultaneously, thanks to increased computational power, mathematicians, engineers and physical scientists have developed sophisticated models of biological systems at different scales. Novel modeling schemes can offer deeper understanding of principles in biology, but there is still a disconnect between modeling and experimental biology that limits our ability to fully realize the integration of mathematical modeling and biology. In this work, we explore the urgent need to expand the use of existing mathematical models across biological scales, develop models that are robust to biological heterogeneity, harness feedback loops within the iterative modeling process, and nurture a cultural shift towards interdisciplinary and cross-field interactions. Better integration of biological experimentation and robust mathematical modeling will transform our ability to understand and predict complex biological systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2255-2266
Number of pages12
JournalIntegrative and Comparative Biology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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