Quantitative biology: where modern biology meets physical sciences. Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • Quantitative methods and approaches have been playing an increasingly important role in cell biology in recent years. They involve making accurate measurements to test a predefined hypothesis in order to compare experimental data with predictions generated by theoretical models, an approach that has benefited physicists for decades. Building quantitative models in experimental biology not only has led to discoveries of counterintuitive phenomena but has also opened up novel research directions. To make the biological sciences more quantitative, we believe a two-pronged approach needs to be taken. First, graduate training needs to be revamped to ensure biology students are adequately trained in physical and mathematical sciences and vice versa. Second, students of both the biological and the physical sciences need to be provided adequate opportunities for hands-on engagement with the methods and approaches necessary to be able to work at the intersection of the biological and physical sciences. We present the annual Physiology Course organized at the Marine Biological Laboratory (Woods Hole, MA) as a case study for a hands-on training program that gives young scientists the opportunity not only to acquire the tools of quantitative biology but also to develop the necessary thought processes that will enable them to bridge the gap between these disciplines.

publication date

  • November 5, 2014