Mechanistic Biological Modeling
Mechanistic modeling relies on the development of mathematical and computational models describing complex interactions between observed and unobserved variables. Together with empirical data, these models can be used to suggest, test, and validate hypotheses. Such models describe, explain, and quantify the cause and effect interactions between inputs and outputs. They go beyond forecasting an outcome; they suggest the biological mechanism underlying the emergence of observed outcomes. Once validated based on experimental or empirical data, these models can be used to guide investigations and to anticipate outcome in situations where experiments are difficult or expensive.
At every scale of biology – from the interaction of molecules to the interaction of species – mechanistic mathematical and computational models have become an essential tool to elucidate emergent behavior, highlight fundamental gaps in understanding, make predictions, and design optimal experiments to test such predictions.
The Mechanistic Biological Modeling group at Virginia Tech involves investigators from many departments.