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In the 21st century life sciences, the primary goal of our focus on undergraduate education and research in systems biology is to better prepare scholars for careers in the related life sciences. The courses below, in addition to LFSC 510 Introduction to Complexity, which is presently taught at the senior and graduate level, form a hierarchical sequence of systems biology courses:

LFSC 101, Life Sciences 101: An entry level course for all science majors that provides an overview of 21st century life sciences research, including such topics as genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics, metabolomics, interactomics (the ‘omics’ hierarchy), bioinformatics, pharmacogenomics, structural biology, drug discovery, biomedical imaging, genetics of complex human characteristics, etc. It offers lectures delivered by VCU’s most accomplished scientists, coupled with small breakout discussion sections that address the theoretical, empirical, and applied study of systems biology. There are no pre-requisites.


LFSC 151/152, Introductory Systems Biology I and II: These courses are introductory science courses for biology majors taught from a systems perspective. Scholars who have taken LFSC 151 will be encouraged to continue in LFSC 152, but the course is open as well to scholars who have completed BIOL 151. Scholars who have completed LFSC 151 or 152 are encouraged to track through LFSC 252 and 352, and if possible, LFSC 510 Introduction to Complexity. These courses provide a solid foundation in systems biology.


LFSC 151L, Introductory Systems Biology Laboratory: This course integrates essential components of wet lab biology offered in BIOL 151 with new in silico approaches to systems biology. One section of the BIOL 151 Laboratory incorporates the systems approaches using bioinformatics and modeling to study biological systems. We use in silico models to depict and study dynamic biological phenomena that cannot be studied directly. Natural phenomena such as evolution, ecology, cell biology, etc., cannot be easily addressed in their entirety using traditional wet lab approaches, but can be modeled in computers. We have found that one useful approach uses a simple modeling technology termed cellular automata. Prerequisites: concurrent enrollment in LFSC 151.


LFSC 252, Complexity of Living Systems: This course introduces scholars to the foundational constructs of complexity as they apply to living systems. Scholars learn about systems approaches to living systems and how such constructs as fractals, chaos, complexity, and systems analys02/03/2010he rich behavior of biological systems in ways not available through reductionist approaches. Pre-requisites: Introductory Biology, Algebra, and Trigonometry (preferably Calculus I). This course will serve as a lead in to more advanced courses.


LFSC 352, Analytical Approaches to Complexity in Living Systems: This course continues the development of LFSC 252. It introduces scholars to advanced methods for analysis of biological and biomedical networks. Network topology constructs, graph theory, dynamical systems theory constructs, chaos, fractals, and other ideas are discussed. Scholars learn important mathematical methods, coupled with free and proprietary software packages, to analyze real world biological networks. Scholars will read and discuss articles from the literature and complete the course by analyzing and presenting their analysis of a real biolog02/03/2010lus I, preferably Calculus II, LFSC 252.



The Center for the Study of Biological Complexity | VCU Life Sciences
Virginia Commonwealth University
1000 West Cary Street, Suite 111 | Richmond, Virginia 23284
Phone: (804) 827-0026 | Fax: 828-1961 | Email:
View text version Updated: April 22, 2010