Online course on Introduction to Systems Biology for free: Mount Sinai

Introduction to Systems Biology


Introduction to Systems Biology is a part of the "Systems Biology" specialization. This course is an introduction to current concepts of how cellular molecules come together to form systems, how these systems exhibit emergent properties, and how these properties are used to make cellular decisions.

About the course

This course will introduce the student to contemporary Systems Biology focused on mammalian cells, their constituents and their functions. Biology is moving from molecular to modular. The course will develop multiple lines of reasoning to answer the questions listed above. Two major reasoning threads are: the design, execution and interpretation of multi-variable experiments that produce large data sets; quantitative reasoning, models and simulations.

Course Syllabus

  • Systems Level Reasoning: Bottom-Up and Top-Down Approaches for Complex Systems
  • Cell Signaling Pathways: Molecules to Pathways, cAMP and MAP-kinase Pathways
  • Signal Flow: Pathways to Networks
  • The Actin Cytoskeleton: The Cell Motility Machine
  • Mathematical Representations of Cell Biological Systems Time and Space
  • Gathering Large Data Sets in Genomics and Proteomics
  • Inferring Modules: Computational Analysis of Large Data Sets; Building Networks
  • Small Scale Systems Biology Experiments
  • Identifying Emergent Properties by Computation: Dynamical Models
  • Emergent Properties: Ultrasensitivity, Bistability, Robustness and Fragility
  • Modules to Functions: Control Systems
  • Module-Boundaries: Sharp and Fuzzy, Interactions between Subcellular Modules
  • Emergence of Cellular Functions from Subcellular Modules
  • Systems Analysis of Complex Diseases
  • Systems Pharmacology: Understanding Drug Action from a Systems Perspective


Undergraduate introductory cell biology; familiarity with statistics

Course Format

Each class session will consist of an approximately one hour lecture, divided into multiple shorter segments.

For evaluation, students will be given homework assignments that will require critical reasoning and problem solving skills. Questions may be multiple choice or short (100 -300 word) essays.

Course Sessions

September 2, 2014 - November 7, 2014

For further information, click here.

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