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Systems approaches to the biosciences


World-class bioscience is critically dependent on new technologies, methodologies and resources. This priority aims to encourage research that will yield the next-generation of these 'new ways of working'. Projects should focus on underpinning and enabling one of the BBSRC strategic research priorities (food security, industrial biotechnology, bioscience underpinning health) or have potential, generic utility across one or more broad areas of the biosciences.

Scientific scope

Systems Biology is an approach in which experimental biology is closely-integrated with mathematical or computational modelling in a synergistic way to answer biological questions that would be not be possible by empirical approaches alone (see downloads). One of the goals of systems biology is to discover new emergent properties that may arise from studying the system as a whole, leading to more rapid and deeper understanding of how the system is controlled and how it responds to external stimuli. This level of understanding will greatly facilitate the future exploitation of biological systems.

A systems biology project may be performed at a number of different biological scales or it may integrate across scales. Grant proposals in systems biology can feature any part of BBSRC's remit, but would be particularly welcome if they support one or more of the strategic priorities of BBSRC (ref 1).

Outputs and impacts


It is expected that proposals will require strong multidisciplinary partnerships between bioscientists and researchers in the physical sciences, engineering and information technology disciplines.

Proposals should ensure that they are designed as much as possible/practical with the end users in mind.

Data sharing

Proposals should comply with BBSRC's Data Sharing Policy (see related links). Proposals developing informatics tools should make such tools available to the wider user and developer community with as few restrictions as possible, ideally using open source best practices (e.g. Creative Commons or Open Source Initiative recommended licences). However, BBSRC recognises that, at times, the creators' intellectual property rights may need protected before any sharing takes place, and this is encouraged where appropriate beforehand. Such protection should not unduly delay the release of any data/tools arising from BBSRC funding.

Pathways to impact

It is expected that proposals will provide tools and resources of potential application to broad communities in the biosciences.


  1. These Strategic Priorities are identified in the BBSRC Strategic Plan 'The Age of Bioscience' (see downloads) and are: Food Security, Bioenergy & Industrial Biotechnology and Basic Bioscience Underpinning Health.