The Biocomplexity Institute, Indiana University
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What is Biocomplexity?

Biocomplexity is the study of the emergence of self-organized, complex behaviors from the interaction of many simple agents. Such emergent complexity is a hallmark of life, from the organization of molecules into cellular machinery, through the organization of cells into tissues, to the organization of individuals into communities. The other key element of biocomplexity is the unavoidable presence of multiple scales. Often, agents organize into much larger structures; those structures organize into much larger structures, etc.. A classic example is the primary, secondary, tertiary, and quaternary folding of DNA into chromosomes that allows a strand of a length of several centimeters to fold, without tangling or losing function, into a chromosome about one micron long. Biocomplexity is a methodology and philosophy as well as a field of study. It focuses on networks of interactions and the general rules governing such networks.


From Solving Life's Equations: “When organic molecules, cells, and organisms interact, they give rise to limitless variation and ever more complex structures. “Systems level” biology—how groups of simple agents or cells or organisms come together to exhibit complex behaviors—is the basis of biocomplexity, the study of these phenomena. To understand how a biological system works, a multidisciplinary approach is necessary. Electricity, chemistry, biology, and physics all come together to make a heart beat.”

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