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Complex Systems Models in Biology and Medicine: Generic Properties and Applications

Call for Papers

Living organisms are complex systems and indeed some concepts of complex systems science (CSS), like those of network theory, have been extensively applied in biology and medicine. However, the penetration of other major concepts of complexity theory is still limited. A good example is the dynamical attractor: in spite of the fact that its application to biology was suggested more than 40 years ago and the fact that there are several beautiful applications, it is still rarely found in models of biological processes and of medical treatment. The penetration of other candidate general concepts that are still more controversial, like that of criticality, is even slower.

On the other hand, CSS promises to give novel and important theoretical insights into medicine and biology, including nervous system, immune system, hormonal systems, and metabolic systems, and it can be also very fruitful from an application-oriented perspective.

One possible reason for the still limited use of complexity methods in biology and medicine and also in systems biology and systems medicine is that the attention in these disciplines is mostly focused on specific cases, while on the other hand CSS methods are particularly well suited to describe "generic" properties that are common to a wide class of organisms or processes.

The aim of this special issue is therefore highlighting concepts of complex systems science that are relevant to biology and medicine and drawing attention on some of their applications, with particular emphasis on generic properties. The proposed papers should address issues related to theoretical aspects or applications of dynamical models. Potential topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Generic properties
  • Attractors
  • Emergent properties
  • Cell differentiation
  • Cancer
  • Personalized medicine
  • Interaction of technological devices with the body
  • Concept discovery
  • Origin of life

Before submission authors should carefully read over the journal’s Author Guidelines, which are located at Prospective authors should submit an electronic copy of their complete manuscript through the journal Manuscript Tracking System at according to the following timetable:

Manuscript DueFriday, 30 August 2013
First Round of ReviewsFriday, 22 November 2013
Publication DateFriday, 17 January 2014

Lead Guest Editor

  • Roberto Serra, Modena and Reggio Emilia University, Reggio Emilia, Italy

Guest Editors

  • Rudolf Füchslin, Zürich University of Applied Sciences, Winterthur, Switzerland
  • Erik Schultes, Leiden University Medical School, Leiden, The Netherlands
  • Marco Villani, Modena and Reggio Emilia University, Reggio Emilia, Italy