Modelling Biological Systems

Modelling is a vital step in the scientific process. Once you have a hypothesis – or even as the hypothesis is forming – we can make a model of how the system might work. The model could be as simple as a diagram, but a dynamic model coded on the computer is often more informative. Computer simulations produce varying, and sometimes unexpected, results.

If our model behaves how we expect – as we see the system behaving – then our hypothesis is validated. The model then often naturally suggests experiments. Having decided on experiments, we can simulate them, to see if they would produce informative results. This can save wasting time and effort on unhelpful experiments.

Biological experiments can be directly compared to our simulations, making testing straightforward. And since our model was created before the experiments were run, there is no concern with bias. We could even farm the test experiments out to other labs!