A basis for a visual language for describing, archiving and analyzing functional models of complex biological systems
1 Division of Human Biology, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, WA 98109-1024, USA
2 RainTown, 331 N 72nd St, Seattle, WA 98103, USA
Genome Biology 2001, 2:research0012-research0012.10 doi:10.1186/gb-2001-2-4-research0012Published: 22 March 2001
We propose that a computerized, internet-based graphical description language for systems biology will be essential for describing, archiving and analyzing complex problems of biological function in health and disease.
We outline here a conceptual basis for designing such a language and describe BioD, a prototype language that we have used to explore the utility and feasibility of this approach to functional biology. Using example models, we demonstrate that a rather limited lexicon of icons and arrows suffices to describe complex cell-biological systems as discrete models that can be posted and linked on the internet.
Given available computer and internet technology, BioD may be implemented as an extensible, multidisciplinary language that can be used to archive functional systems knowledge and be extended to support both qualitative and quantitative functional analysis.