Contribution in edited book
Updating Cowdry’s Theories: The Role of Models in Contemporary Experimental and Computational Cell Biology



Publication Details
Authors:
Groß, F.
Editor:
Maienschain, Jane; Laubichler, Manfred; Matlin, Karl
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
Place:
Chicago
Publishing status:
In press / published online in advance
Book title:
Visions of cell biology: Reflections on Cowdry’s General Cytology
Languages:
English

Abstract

This chapter discusses the relationship between modelers and experimentalists in contemporary cell biology.  In comparison with Cowdry’s times, it seems that models have taken over the epistemic role of theories. But models are proposed both by experimentalists themselves and by computational biologists. This raises the question: What is the relationship between computational models  and the kinds of models that experimentalists typically use to represent their hypotheses about biological mechanisms? The answer proposed here is based on an analysis of the models of experimental and computational biologists in terms of heuristic strategies. This perspective focuses in particular on underlying assumptions about biological organization and complexity and allows for a fine-grained comparison of different approaches. The assumptions of experimental cell biologists can be derived from the way in which they describe and represent their mechanistic models, and they justify their qualitative and informal strategy. Computational modeling manages to overcome some of the limitations that this approach encounters in certain contexts. However, computational biologists must introduce heuristic assumptions of their own in order to generate tractable and well-constrained research problems. I discuss case studies from research about cell cycle regulation to illustrate and substantiate my claims.



Authors/Editors

Last updated on 2019-25-07 at 19:29