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Quantitative Biology Research in Madison

Overview of areas of research in Madison that contribute to integrating physical and biological sciences.


Quantiative biology research at UW-Madison takes many different forms and happens in many different departments and centers. It is difficult to give a precise list, not only because so much is happening, but also because different people prefer to draw different boundaries in defining where biology becomes quantitative. Here is a taste of the questions that would need to be answered for making a definition of quantitative biology actually precise enough so it could be quantified:

  • Are precise measurements in the lab enough or do we need computer simulations?
  • Are simulations enough or do we need mathematical theory?
  • How precise does a measurement in the lab have to be to count as quantitative?
  • Are errors of 3 orders of magnitude still quantitative enough?
  • Does the same margin of error apply for math theory applied to real world questions and to lab measurements of processes that are extremely hard to quantify?
  • How much more quantitative are automated images analyzed by algorithms with arbitrary cutoffs in comparison to high quality hand drawn images that capture the essence of what is going on?
  • Are quantitative measures more important to support qualitative conclusions or the the other way round?

We will not try to answer these questions nor will we try to define systems biology. Instead we provide an incomplete but growing list of the various labs that help understand some aspects of quantitative biology.

This page covers some topics we think contribute towards a quantitative understanding of biology and labs working on these aspects. This list will grow as more labs join the site. For each lab there is a corresponding entry on the Labs-page, which provides a brief description and a link to the lab website. Many labs cover multiple aspects, so multiple entries can be expected in this list.

Research Topics

Here we plan to provide a quick overview of the various areas of quantitative biology research at UW-Madison. If you want to help us with that, please let us know.