The goal of
an integrative biology

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 Scientific activities (summary)

Functional organisation and n-levels field theory
- Theory
- Formalism

 Integration of physiological functions
- Cerebellum
(movement memory)
- Hippocampus
(cognitive memory)
- Organisation of biological
- Evolution
- Development
- Ageing
- Consciousness

- Respiratory, cardio-

vascular and renal systems
- Resuscitation

Drug discovery
 Journal of Integrative Neuroscience
Why integrative biology ? Back Next

Integrative biology is a new science, which development goes with difficult and specific theoretical difficulties stemming from mathematics, physic and biology. It deals with the integrate description of many phenomenon which take place in the different levels of the structural and functional hierarchical organizations of the living (interlocking of Russian dolls). So it requires a new specific mathematical formalism, able to go through the organization's levels.

Life of a living organism comes down to a set of interactions of many elementary mechanisms which unrolled themselves at the right moment, in the right place (they are said "spatiotemporals").
Each "encoding" in the living is therefore spatiotemporal. These mechanisms are functional since they tally with z certain physiological function. When this one is disturbed, it is said pathological.
Which datas characterize those mechanisms ?

    Ion  tranport toward membrane
  • First of all, they are built on a physical structure, namely a set of molecules. For example, it will be a neurone which will act on a neurone, or a gland which will act on other cell via a molecule, the hormone. The complexity of an organism is due to the "integrate" construction of many mechanisms.
  • Then, the elementary mechanism might come from physic, like the ionic transport through a membrane. It also results from the combination of many physical laws as the matter and the electric charge conservation.
  • But a delayed action on other physical structure may also happen : at that point difficulties appear which make the biological system a very complex system. In fact, the notion of function appears when a physical structure act at e distance on other one, with, therefore, a certain extension. It's a matter of functional interaction which fulfils physical laws.

Claude Bernard The quantitative determination of these actions (or relations between physical structures) is the subject of experimental physiology. At Claude Bernard's time, it was called general physiology.

So as to sum up and enlighten the situation, I will use the expression anatomical structure for the physical structure, in other words, a molecules arrangement in the physical space, for example, a neurone localized in a brain's place. I will call functional interaction the elementary action of a structure on other one. Consequently, integrative physiological difficulties will be: :

  • 1) The identification of the anatomical structures able to act on other anatomical structures ;
  • 2) The determination of these actions (quantitative relations) ;
  • 3) The re-construction of a physiological function from its elementary interactions.

Points 1) andt 2) are subjects of experimental integrative biology.
Point 3) is the one of computational* and theoretical integrative biology*.

The question asked is how reach these objectives…...

* The topical trend is also to call this field "bioinformatics", term that I consider inappropriate to denote integrative biology. To me, bio computer scientists have more a reductionnist approach than an integrative, pure bioinformatique rather than mathematical. This only leads us to quasi-automatics connections (determination of relations by systematic study of sets of datas). This may appear to someone as integration… but it's not one. (read in particular the letter I sent to the monthly La Recherche, in reaction to the article: "Où va la biologie?" By Evelyn Fox Keller (La Recherche, juin, n°376, p.30), letter published in the n°378 of September 2004).

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