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Press Release 07-045

Biology in the 21st Century

National Science Foundation Assistant Director James Collins to speak at Experimental Biology 2007 Conference

From cells to ecosystems, systems biology focuses on interactions of parts of biological systems.

From cells to ecosystems, systems biology focuses on interactions of parts of biological systems.
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April 26, 2007

James Collins, National Science Foundation (NSF) assistant director for biological sciences, will present a talk entitled, "Biology into the 21st Century: Where to from Here?" on May 1, 2007, at the Experimental Biology 2007 conference in Washington, D.C.

Systems biology is the study of how complex properties arise from the interactions of the components of biological systems.

Collins will discuss systems biology and its significance in today's world, designed as a conversation with Experimental Biology 2007 attendees about the theoretical and conceptual bases of biology in the 21st century.

"Research in this area is aimed at developing a comprehensive understanding of living systems," Collins said. "This is important in a world in which, for example, climate change is affecting our entire planet. What happens in one part of the world has an impact on the rest of the globe."

"Systems biology will help us better comprehend the interactions between Earth's living and non-living components. And systems biologists make use of a combination of experimentation, computation and modeling such that each part of the triad informs the others," he said.

A systems approach to the study of biology will lead to an ability, for example, to predict why organisms are structured the way they are and perform as they do. Systems biology will strengthen the theoretical underpinnings of biology, according to Collins, and will lead to development of new theory in biology.

Collins' talk will take place on Tuesday, May 1, at 2 p.m. in Ballroom B of the D.C. Convention Center.


Media Contacts
Cheryl Dybas, NSF, (703) 292-7734,

Related Websites
NSF Biological Sciences Directorate:
Experimental Biology 2007:

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. In fiscal year (FY) 2016, its budget is $7.5 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and other institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 48,000 competitive proposals for funding and makes about 12,000 new funding awards. NSF also awards about $626 million in professional and service contracts yearly.

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