Dynamic Processes as a Fundamental Feature of Living Systems
In particular, dynamic processes play an essential role in biological information processing, as they occur in nervous systems, in morphogenesis, and in cellular as well as systemic decision-making processes.
Computational Theories and Methods
The development of mathematical and computational theories of biological networks is one of the central, cross-disciplinary challenges for the Natural Sciences in the 21st century. Rapid technological advances are currently opening up novel ways to capture and comprehend dynamic information processing in living systems.
In neuroscience and developmental biology, for example, optical imaging techniques with subcellular resolution, together with optogenetic and optophysiological approaches, allow us to capture and manipulate the collective workings of thousands of cells simultaneously.
One of the greatest tasks for the theoretical and mathematical sciences at present is to provide such studies with a logical-mathematical framework, to interpret their results critically, and to develop methods for extracting fundamental principles of biological dynamics and information processing from available data sets.
On the Trail of Evolution
One focus of the institute's current activities is on understanding the evolution of information-processing as well as self-organized systems and the associated functional optimization of information flows in living systems. All biological networks are ultimately shaped by evolutionary processes. For systematic reasons alone, a stringent theory of biological networks must ultimately incorporate evolutionary questions.
The CIDBN research groups are working on this aspect starting from the theoretical understanding of self-organization processes at the origin of life (Dr. Zwicker), to the mathematical reconstruction of neutral and adaptive evolutionary dynamics (Dr. Nourmohammad), to the investigation of fundamental innovations in the evolution of cerebral cortex networks (Prof. Löwel, Dr. Neef, Prof. Wibral, Prof. Wolf).
However, CIDBN's scientific activities are not limited to the field of basic research, but also include applied and translational projects that benefit from concepts and methods related to the dynamics of biological networks.