Best Online Courses on Systems Biology and Biotechnology

Systems Biology is an approach in biomedical research to understanding the larger picture—be it at the level of the organism, tissue, or cell—by putting its pieces together. The field involves the computational and mathematical analysis and modeling of complex biological systems. Systems Biology is a biology-based interdisciplinary field of study that focuses on complex interactions within biological systems, using a holistic approach to biological research. In this article, we have aggregated the best online courses on systems biology and biotechnology.

Why Do You Need to Learn Systems Biology?

Biology is moving from molecular to modular. As our knowledge of our genome and gene expression deepens and we develop lists of molecules (proteins, lipids, ions) involved in cellular processes, we need to understand how these molecules interact with each other to form modules that act as discrete functional systems.

There has been a shift of focus in the biomolecular sciences, from the desire to understand how a single gene functions, to understanding how all genes and gene products of a cell work together. This new paradigm for understanding interrelationships between networks of biological processes is termed systems biology. When applied to cell biology, it is primarily about the network of genes, mRNA, and proteins.

Molecular Biology vs Systems Biology

Molecular biology deals with the structure and functions of biomolecules. On the other hand, systems biology is the study of organisms in an extreme crossdisciplinary perspective where the biological phenomenon are studies on the basics of computational biology, modeling, mathematics, computer science, etc.

  • Systems biology and molecular biology can answer the same question in quite different ways. Frequently the answers given by one sub-discipline seem no answer at all to the other.
  • For many molecular biologists, a systems-level explanation leaves them feeling that, until the underlying molecular mechanisms are known, the approach is hopelessly superficial.
  • For systems biologists, on the other hand, an account of the genes and gene interactions responsible for a phenomenon is just a list and they hunger for the underlying principles that make sense out of the list.

Advantages of Systems Biology Course

Systems biology has been responsible for some of the most important developments in the science of human health and environmental sustainability. It is a holistic approach to deciphering the complexity of biological systems that starts from the understanding that the networks that form the whole of living organisms are more than the sum of their parts.

Best Online Courses on Systems Biology

Co-authored by Sandipan Mukherjee

Introductory Human Physiology (Duke University)

Students enrolled: 393,499+ | Average Rating: 4.8

In this course, students learn to recognize and apply the basic concepts that govern integrated body function (as an intact organism) in the body’s nine organ systems.

Systems Biology and Biotechnology Capstone (Icahn School of Medicine, Mount Sinai)

Students enrolled: 93,499+| Average Rating: 4.8

In order to take this course, you should have taken and completed the following courses in the Signature Track: Introduction to Systems Biology, Network Analysis in Systems Biology, Dynamical Modeling Methods for Systems Biology, Experimental Methods in SB, and Integrated Analysis In Systems Biology

Genes and the Human Condition (From Behavior to Biotechnology) (University of Maryland, College Park)

Students enrolled: 55,411+ | Average Rating: 4.7

In this course, you will learn how to acquire an understanding of the fundamental concepts of genomics and biotechnology, and their implications for human biology, evolution, medicine, social policy, and individual life path choices in the 21st century.

Looking for a Live Tutor-Led Course? Check out the Summer Program on Biotech and Biomedical Sciences.

Systems Biology and Biotechnology Specialization (Icahn School of Medicine, Mount Sinai)

Students enrolled: 17,931+ | Average Rating: 4.5

Design systems-level experiments using appropriate cutting edge techniques, collect big data and analyze and interpret small and big data sets quantitatively.

The Systems Biology Specialization covers the concepts and methodologies used in systems-level analysis of biomedical systems. Successful participants will learn how to use experimental, computational, and mathematical methods in systems biology and how to design practical systems-level frameworks to address questions in a variety of biomedical fields. In the final Capstone Project, students will apply the methods they learned in five courses of specialization to work on a research project.

Experimental Methods in Systems Biology (Icahn School of Medicine, Mount Sinai)

Students enrolled: 17,948| Average Rating: 4.5

Learn about the technologies underlying experimentation used in systems biology, with a particular focus on RNA sequencing, mass spec-based proteomics, flow/mass cytometry, and live-cell imaging.

A key driver of the systems biology field is the technology allowing us to delve deeper and wider into how cells respond to experimental perturbations. This in turn allows us to build more detailed quantitative models of cellular function, which can give important insight into applications ranging from biotechnology to human disease.

This course gives a broad overview of a variety of current experimental techniques used in modern systems biology, with a focus on obtaining the quantitative data needed for computational modeling purposes in downstream analyses.

You will dive deeply into four technologies in particular, mRNA sequencing, mass spectrometry-based proteomics, flow/mass cytometry, and live-cell imaging. These techniques are often used in systems biology and range from genome-wide coverage to single molecule coverage, millions of cells to single cells, and single time points to frequently sampled time courses.

The course presents not only the theoretical background upon which these technologies work, but also enters real wet lab environments to provide instruction on how these techniques are performed in practice, and how resultant data are analyzed for quality and content.

Dynamical Modeling Methods for Systems Biology (Icahn School of Medicine, Mount Sinai)

Students enrolled: 15,752+ | Average Rating: 4.8

This course focuses on dynamical modeling techniques used in Systems Biology research. These techniques are based on biological mechanisms, and simulations with these models generate predictions that can subsequently be tested experimentally. These testable predictions frequently provide novel insight into biological processes. The approaches taught here can be grouped into the following categories: 1) ordinary differential equation-based models, 2) partial differential equation-based models, and 3) stochastic models.

Integrated Analysis in Systems Biology (Icahn School of Medicine, Mount Sinai)

Students enrolled: 7,295+ | Average Rating: 4.6

This course will focus on developing integrative skills through directed reading and analysis of the current primary literature to enable the student to develop the capstone project as the overall final exam for the specialization in systems biology.

Chemical Biology (University of Geneva)

Students Enrolled: 10,800+ | Average Rating: 4.7

Chemical biology is a burgeoning field that has rapidly risen to prominence. This surge of interest has been fuelled by chemical biology’s applicability to understanding critical processes in live cells or model organisms in real-time. This success has arisen because chemical biology straddles a nexus between chemistry, biology, and physics. Thus, chemical biology can harness rapid chemistry to observe or perturb biological processes, that are in turn reported using physical assays, all in an otherwise unperturbed living entity.

You will learn:

  • Foundational comprehension of chemical biology
  • Interfacial science problem solving and method design
  • Understanding of applied, translational concepts in life sciences

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