Dr. habil. Axel Kowald
Theoretical Biophysics, HU-Berlin
10115 Berlin, Germany
Phone: +49 30 2093 8386
Systems Biology and Kinetic Modelling:
Systems biology is a new emerging discipline that is basically a successor of mathematical
modelling. The difference is that now the emphasis lies on the generation of large and
quantitative models in contrast to the small and often qualitative models of the past.
Obviously many numerical data are needed for this, such as data on enzyme kinetic parameters,
enzyme and metabolite concentrations, affinity constants and degradation rates. For this a
close cooperation between modeller and experimentalist is needed and intended.
In 2005 I co-authored one of the first text books about System Biology which was published
by Wiley. The book was quite successful and in 2009 we now published our second book
about systems biology. For details please see the
Publications link further down.
Evolutionary and mechanistic aspects of the biological aging process:
Most living organisms on this planet age (increased mortality with chronological
time) and the big question is why has it evolved and how does it work ?
These questions are not trivial since common sense would argue the
longer you live the better it is, because you can produce more offsprings.
But in reality we see that things are different and all species have a
specific lifespan ranging from a few weeks (i.e. insects) to over 100 years
(humans, turtles, mussles). Over the decades many (!) explanations have
been given to answer the "why" and "how" question. For instance:
of worn out individuals
acting deleterious genes
Somatic mutation theory
Non-destructable waste products
Free (oxygen) radical theory
While there is now broad agreement that the declining force of natural
selection is responsible for the evolution of the aging process (which
drastically reduces the number of possible theories), there are over 300
different theories about the mechanisms of aging (the "how" question).
One reason is that for a very long time it was not possible to test the
ideas experimentally. However, there has been large progress in molecular
genetics and biochemistry and since the mid eighties the techniques necessary
to verify (or falsify) mechanistic aging theories are emerging (transgenic
animals, knock outs, ES cells, etc). To date, the most popular theories
are the telomere shortening theory and a mixture between the free radical
and defective mitochondria theories.
Last modified: Jan. 2010