From 11-18 August, the fifth Dresden Summer School in Systems Biology took place at the Center for Systems Biology Dresden. 21 hand-selected participants came from 15 countries to learn concepts in spatiotemporal modeling and simulation of biological systems. 18 hours of lectures were supported by tutorials and a week-long hands-on research project, in which interdisciplinary teams of participants competed to formulate and simulate their own models to predict a developmental biological system from real experimental data provided to them.
The group of learners was composed of Bachelor-, Master- and PhD students with diverse backgrounds in 5 disciplines: Computer Science, Engineering, Physics, Biology, and Mathematics. Even more impressive was the equal 1:1 gender balance.
The week began with a poster session, in which participants introduced themselves and their research background. Moshir Harsh, currently a Master’s Student of Physics at École Normale Supérieure in Paris, was presented with the award for Best Poster for his project “Learning Dynamics in Restricted Boltzmann Machines (RBMs).” For the first time in the history of the school, 2 interdisciplinary teams tied for first-place project. Their simulation models were graded by how well they predicted experimental measurements which were not previously disclosed to them. Additional criteria were the simulation runtime (efficiency), the simplicity/elegance of the model, the originality of the approach, the quality of the final oral presentation, and the user friendliness of the simulation software.
Key lecturers were Ivo Sbalzarini, Christoph Zechner of the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics and the Center for Systems Biology Dresden, and Lutz Brusch of the Centre for Information Services and High Performance Computing if Technische Universität Dresden. Featured highlight speakers Stephan Grill, Michael Hiller, Carl Modes, Dora Tang, and Nadine Vastenhouw gave evening talks showcasing the range of research with ties to computer-based applications. Following each talk, the participating students met the highlight speakers and asked questions in an informal setting over dinner.
Information on the Dresden Summer School in Systems Biology is hosted at www.sysbioschool-dresden.de.