ICTAS Center for Systems Biology of Engineered Tissues

In vitro tissue mimics can serve as reliable models of in vivo structures and can be systematically probed with a wide range of cues. Since they are engineered, experimentation on these mimics is considerably less complex than those needed to probe tissues and organisms in vivo. Currently, tissue engineers draw heavily from a range of disciplines in order to successfully design tissue or organ mimics. These fields include cell and molecular biology, biomedical engineering, materials science, and chemical and mechanical engineering.

Concomitant with the dramatic developments in tissue engineering, the genomic revolution of the past two decades and rapid advances in high-throughput experimental techniques are enabling measurements of mRNA, protein, and metabolite levels, and the detection of molecular interactions on a massive scale. These advances are transforming molecular biology from a reductionist, hypothesis-driven experimental field into an increasingly data-driven science, focused on understanding the functioning of the living cell at a systems level. The grand challenges that constitute the field of systems biology include understanding the complex interactions between diverse and large bodies of molecules at various levels, and inferring the complex pathways and intermediaries that govern each biological process.

So far, the inherently interdisciplinary fields of tissue engineering and systems biology have been developed independently. There is a natural synergy between the two areas that has not yet been fruitfully exploited. The ICTAS Center for Systems Biology for Engineered Tissues (ISBET) will define a synthesis and synergy between tissue engineering and systems biology. Seamlessly intertwined computational and experimental models will drive the next generation of advances in tissue engineering and in systems biology. Systems biology approaches will underlie predictive computational models of engineered tissues and drive novel experimental analysis of engineered tissues, while the demands of tissue engineering will inspire new methodologies and analysis frameworks in systems biology.

In September 2013, ISBET researchers organized a Workshop on Computational Toxicology.


Figure 1: Areas of Research in ISBET