Systems biology: what is the software of life?

The BCS Edinburgh Branch Sidney Michaelson Memorial Lecture (about Sidney Michaelson)

In partnership with the Edinburgh International Science Festival.

Wednesday 26th March 2006, 8:00 pm

Speaker: Professor Muffy Calder BSc PhD FRSE FBCS FIEE, University of Glasgow.

Venue: National Museum of Scotland - Lecture Theatre

Admission by ticket only - available from the Edinburgh International Science Festival.


In this talk I will consider the question “what does cellular biology have to do with computer science”. I will start out explaining the basics of both, explaining in way that make them sound very different, but then I will turn argument on its head and show analogies. The main analogy will be cell signalling: how messages are sent around our body. I will briefly explore how ideas go from life sciences to computing science, and then concentrate on the opposite, from computing science to life sciences, mainly concentrating on signalling, but also bringing in some other areas.

In all cases I will use my own personal experience to convey excitement of field and concrete examples.

The big messages are 1) you never know where research is going, 2) the differences and similarities between evolved and engineered systems 3) we’ve already explored biologically inspired computing, now it is time to explore computationally inspired biology, 4) the final answer: a wonderful coming together of mathematics, computer science, engineering, biochemistry and medicine.

About the speaker


Muffy Calder is Professor of Computing Science at the University of Glasgow, where she was Head of Department 2003-2007. She is currently on sabbatical and is a visiting Professor in Informatics at the University of Edinburgh. Her research is in modelling and reasoning about the behaviour of complex and concurrent systems, from telecommunications services, to medical devices and biochemical signalling pathways. She has a special interest in process algebra and model checking and recently has become interested in computational biology, working with researchers from cardiovascular medicine and cancer research. She has long-standing industrial collaborations with many world-leading IT companies and in the distant past has been a research fellow at BT Laboratories and DEC in California. She has a PhD in Computational Science from the University of St. Andrews and a BSc in Computing Science from the University of Stirling. She is a member of the Scottish Science Advisory Committee, reporting to the Scottish Executive, and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, the British Computer Society and the Institution of Engineering and Technology.