Members of Computational and Systems Biology use cutting-edge theoretical methods to study a wide variety of biological systems in plants, microbes and beyond.
A central feature is very close collaboration with experimental groups both at the John Innes Centre and internationally.
Through the use of mathematical models, which are simulated on computers or solved analytically, we make experimentally-testable predictions than can greatly accelerate our understanding of sophisticated biological systems. We have a variety of theoretical backgrounds ranging from theoretical physics to applied mathematics to bioinformatics and computer science, giving us a diverse theoretical toolbox with which to tackle complex biology.
At the heart of our research is the issue of biological information transfer and processing: How are morphogen gradients formed and their information decoded? Should biological information be stored and processed digitally or in an analogue fashion? How can biological information be encoded in an oscillatory process?
Key research topics in which these questions are addressed include work on epigenetic dynamics (in collaboration with the experimental group of Caroline Dean), focused on developing simple models of stable epigenetic memory capable of properly regulating flowering time. Other central research focuses on the dynamics of auxin gradients in plant roots, and associated issues of cell polarity (in collaboration with the experimental group of Enrico Coen). Oscillatory calcium dynamics are also under intense study, in the context of mutually beneficial symbiotic relationships between microbes and legumes (in collaboration with the experimental group of Giles Oldroyd).
The department of Computational & Systems Biology also runs afor scientists on the Norwich Research Park.
Mrs Debra Canton-Stoker