Professor Jens Nielsen gave his Volterra lecture at NMBU 2 February 2017 where he introduced systems biology and gave several relevant examples of how a systemic approach to study metabolic processes opens for new knowledge and applications within biotechnology and biomedicine.
Today, we can analyze enormous amount of data from biological systems, such as the total number of genes, the amount of proteins, or the amount of a certain type of molecules in a living cell, a plant, or a patient’s blood sample. The data can be mapped onto the biochemical reactions that constitute life itself, reflected by the metabolic pathways and networks in the cell. This knowledge lays the foundation for building a model of the system, as the biochemical reactions can be expressed mathematically, by linking together a finite number of connected reactions encompassing all metabolic reactions in the system. By computational methods using the established model, one can simulate and predict the outcome of alterations to the system. This can then be tested or verified in the organism experimentally, and eventually lead to improved performance in an industrial biotechnological process or an improved selection of biomarkers for diagnosis.
In connection to the visit the DigiSal project presented their system biology project creating a digital model of salmon metabolism, which will be used to improve the yield and sustainability in the salmon farming industry.
Project leader Jon Olav Vik (right), together with Dina Petranovic and Jens Nielsen (middle), visiting from Chalmers University of Technology, and members of the DigiSal project (left).
Professor Jens Nielsen is Professor of Systems Biology at Chalmers University of Technology heading the division of Systems Biology and Synthetic Biology. His research has had a profound impact on the field of systems biology with more than 550 research papers, cited more than 18,000 times, as well as its utilization within industrial biotechnology. Jens Nielsen is the inventor of more than 50 patents and has founded several companies, such as Fluxome now a part of Evolva, and Biopetrolia. His current research interest is focused on developing efficient cell factories for sustainable production of fuels and chemicals, but also to understand conserved regulatory pathways and developing metabolic models of eukaryotic cells. Several projects are connected with the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Biosustainability. Jens Nielsen is a member of several academies, has served on several committees and scientific advisory boards within academia as well as industry.He has received numerous awards for his achievements.