SBML, BioModels.net, and SBGN
Systems biology has arisen through the convergence of theoretical, computational, and mathematical modeling of systems and the need to understand the wealth of information being rapidly generated in biology. Systems biology by its nature requires collaborations between scientists with expertise in biology, chemistry, computer sciences, engineering, mathematics, and physics. Successful integration of these disciplines depends on bringing to bear both social and technological tools: namely, consortia that help forge collaborations and common understanding, software tools that permit analysis of vast and complex data, and agreed-upon standards that enable researchers to communicate and reuse each other's results in practical and unambiguous ways. In this presentation, I will discuss several international projects (SBML, SBGN, and BioModels.net) aimed at addressing the last issue. An important prerequisite for effective sharing of computational models is reaching agreement on how to communicate them, both between software and between humans. The Systems Biology Markup Language (SBML) project is an effort to create a machine-readable format for representing computational models at the biochemical reaction level. By supporting SBML as an input and output format, different software tools can operate on the same representation of a model, removing chance for errors in translation and assuring a common starting point for analyses and simulations. SBML has become the most successful effort in this direction so far, with nearly 100 software tools supporting it today. A recently-created sister project is the Systems Biology Graphical Notation (SBGN) project. It addresses the issue of consistent human communication, by attempting to add more rigor and consistency to the graphical network diagrams that often accompany published research on models of biological reaction systems. The real payoff will come when more people and software adopt such a common visual notation and it becomes as familiar to them as circuit schematics are to electronics engineers. Finally, when developing and publishing computational models, it is only natural to want to put them into a database. The BioModels.net project is an effort to (1) provide a free, centralized, publicly-accessible database of human-curated computational models in SBML and other structured formats; (2) define agreed-upon standards for model curation; and (2) define agreed-upon vocabularies for annotating models with connections to biological data resources.
Additional Information© 2007 Nature Publishing Group. Received 22 January 2007 04:29 UTC; Posted 22 January 2007. Oral presentation given at IECA 2006 in Jeju, South Korea, 31 October 2006
Published - HUCnpre07b.pdf