The Current Opinion journals were developed out of the recognition that it is increasingly difficult for specialists to keep up to date with the expanding volume of information published in their subject. Elsevier’s Current Opinion journals comprise of 26 leading titles in life sciences and adjacent fields.

Current Opinion in Systems Biology

Issues per year: 6 issues
Editorial Board

Current Opinion in Systems Biology

Current Opinion in Systems Biology is a new systematic review journal that aims to provide specialists with a unique and educational platform to keep up-to-date with the expanding volume of information published in the field of Systems Biology. It publishes polished, concise and timely systematic reviews and opinion articles. In addition to describing recent trends, the authors are encouraged to give their subjective opinion on the topics discussed. As this is such a broad discipline, we have determined themed sections each of which is reviewed once a year.

The following 12 areas will be covered by Current Opinion in Systems Biology:

  • Genomics and Epigenomics
  • Gene Regulation
  • Metabolic Networks
  • Cancer and Systemic Diseases
  • Mathematical Modelling
  • Big Data Acquisition and Analysis
  • Systems Pharmacology and Physiology
  • Synthetic Biology
  • Stem Cells, Development, and Differentiation
  • Systems Biology of Mold Organisms
  • Systems Immunology and Host-Pathogen Interaction
  • Systems Ecology and Evolution

Section Editors, who are major authorities in the field, are appointed by the Editors of the journal. They divide their section into a number of topics, ensuring that the field is comprehensively covered and that all issues of current importance are emphasized. Section Editors commission reviews from authorities on each topic that they have selected.


Authors write short review articles in which they present recent developments in their subject, emphasizing the aspects that, in their opinion, are most important. In addition, they provide short annotations to the papers that they consider to be most interesting from all those published in their topic over the previous year.

Editorial Overview

Section Editors write a short overview at the beginning of the section to introduce the reviews and to draw the reader's attention to any particular interesting developments.

Invited authors are encouraged to visit our Guide for Authors for information on article submission.

Best Cited over the last year.

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An operational view of intercellular signaling pathways

© 2017 The Authors. Animal cells use a conserved repertoire of intercellular signaling pathways to communicate with one another. These pathways are well-studied from a molecular point of view. However, we often lack an "operational" understanding that would allow us to use these pathways to rationally control cellular behaviors. This requires knowing what dynamic input features each pathway perceives and how it processes those inputs to control downstream processes. To address these questions,…

Volume 1, Issue , 01 February 2017, Pp 16-24
Yaron E. Antebi | Nagarajan Nandagopal | Michael B. Elowitz

System-level understanding of plant mineral nutrition in the big data era

© 2017 Elsevier Ltd. Plants convert mineral elements from the soil into organic molecules, thereby serving as a major entry point of these elements into the food web and ultimately impacting human nutrition. Therefore, it is important to understand how plants regulate the homeostasis of these elements and how multiple mineral nutrient signals are wired to influence plant growth. The emergence of big data and methods for their analyses open new avenues for answering these questions. Here, we…

Volume 4, Issue , 01 August 2017, Pp 71-77
Hatem Rouached | Seung Y. Rhee

Repertoire sequencing and the statistical ensemble approach to adaptive immunity

© 2017 Elsevier Ltd. The recent advent of high-throughput sequencing of immune receptors allows for the study of immune repertoires in unprecedented depth. This should eventually lead to a better understanding of basic immune function and the development of valuable new diagnostic tools. However, the interpretation of these new sequence data can be difficult because the relationship between receptor sequence and immune specificity is generally unknown. In particular, phenotypically similar…

Volume 1, Issue , 01 February 2017, Pp 44-47
Curtis G. Callan | Thierry Mora | Aleksandra M. Walczak

Non-coding genetic variation in cancer

© 2017 The Authors. The vast majority of somatic variants in cancer genomes occur in non-coding regions. However, progress in cancer genomics in the past decades has been mostly focused on coding regions, largely due to the prohibitive cost of whole genome sequencing. Recent technological advances have decreased sequencing costs leading to the current acquisition of thousands of tumor whole genomes, which has led to a hunt for non-coding drivers. The most well characterized regulatory drivers…

Volume 1, Issue , 01 February 2017, Pp 9-15
Tawny N. Cuykendall | Mark A. Rubin | Ekta Khurana

Stem cell self-renewal in regeneration and cancer: Insights from mathematical modeling

© 2017. Self-renewal is the process by which stem cells give rise to stem cells. Recent insights from experimental and theoretical models suggest that self-renewal not only influences the stem cell population but has a crucial impact on dynamics of non-stem cells. Efficient production of mature cells in tissue regeneration requires up-regulation of stem cell self-renewal. Increased self-renewal confers a competitive advantage on cancer cell clones by leading to aggressive expansion of both stem…

Volume 5, Issue , 01 October 2017, Pp 112-120
Thomas Stiehl | Anna Marciniak-Czochra

Advances and applications of immune receptor sequencing in systems immunology

© 2017 Elsevier Ltd. High-throughput immunoglobulin and T cell receptor sequencing is a rapidly evolving technology that is utilized to explore the complex behavior of the adaptive immune system. Presently, advances in paired immune receptor sequencing enable the identification of hundreds of thousands of complete receptor heterodimers in a single experiment and the integration of immune receptor sequencing with transcriptional profiling. Recent studies have applied high-throughput immune…

Volume 1, Issue , 01 February 2017, Pp 62-68
Paul Lindau | Harlan S. Robins

Single cells make big data: New challenges and opportunities in transcriptomics

© 2017 The Authors. Recent technological advances have enabled unprecedented insight into transcriptomics at the level of single cells. Single cell transcriptomics enables the measurement of transcriptomic information of thousands of single cells in a single experiment. The volume and complexity of resulting data make it a paradigm of big data. Consequently, the field is presented with new scientific and, in particular, analytical challenges where currently no scalable solutions exist. At the…

Volume 4, Issue , 01 August 2017, Pp 85-91
Philipp Angerer | Lukas Simon | Sophie Tritschler | F. Alexander Wolf | David Fischer | Fabian J. Theis

Cancer systems biology: Live imaging of intestinal tissue in health and disease

© 2017 Elsevier Ltd. Our understanding of the epithelial stem cell compartment of the intestine has seen tremendous progress over recent years. As a result, the crypt is progressively transforming into the primary model system to address fundamental questions about epithelial homeostasis, lineage differentiation and cancer development. Instrumental for these developments were genetic mouse models to identify and manipulate intestinal stem cells in vivo, as well as ex vivo organoid systems of…

Volume 2, Issue , 01 April 2017, Pp 19-28
Bas Ponsioen | Hugo J. Snippert

Recent developments in models of calcium signalling

© 2017 Elsevier Ltd. The spatio-temporal behaviour of the intracellular calcium concentration is both physiologically important and theoretically complex, and this has led to a large body of joint experimental and theoretical work into the dynamics and physiology of calcium signalling. As new data become available, the older models undergo continual redevelopment, and many important questions remain. Here, we briefly discuss four areas in which new data have led to the development of new…

Volume 3, Issue , 01 June 2017, Pp 15-22
Geneviève Dupont | James Sneyd

Dissecting chromatin-mediated gene regulation and epigenetic memory through mathematical modelling

© 2017 Elsevier Ltd. The application of mathematical modelling to chromatin-mediated gene regulation is gaining momentum, but is still surprisingly rare. Here we review examples in which the combination of quantitative experimentation and mathematical modelling has given mechanistic insights into the processes involved. Examples include recruitment of epigenetic regulators, the establishment and maintenance of epigenetic memory, the dynamic cell cycle - dependent changes in chromatin binding of…

Volume 3, Issue , 01 June 2017, Pp 7-14
Leonie Ringrose | Martin Howard

Genome variation across cancers scales with tissue stiffness - An invasion-mutation mechanism and implications for immune cell infiltration

© 2017 Elsevier Ltd. Many different types of soft and solid tumors have now been sequenced, and meta-analyses suggest that genomic variation across tumors scales with the stiffness of the tumors' tissues of origin. Vogelstein and Tomasetti recently suggested cancer risk scales sub-linearly with the normal rate of stem cell divisions in the tissue of origin, suggesting a key role for DNA replication in mutation processes, and multiple 'mechanogenomics' mechanisms might explain the additional…

Volume 2, Issue , 01 April 2017, Pp 103-114
Charlotte R. Pfeifer | Cory M. Alvey | Jerome Irianto | Dennis E. Discher

Systems pharmacology-based identification of pharmacogenomic determinants of adverse drug reactions using human iPSC-derived cell lines

© 2017 Elsevier Ltd. Few pharmacogenomic predictors of adverse drug reactions (ADRs) are currently available. Pharmacogenomic ADR studies are challenged by the multifactorial nature of ADRs and by insufficient sample sizes. Identification of pharmacogenomic predictors for personalized prediction of ADR risk may be enabled by development of large-scale libraries of patient-derived induced pluripotent stem cells. Using such libraries, ADR-related transcriptomic signatures can be mapped to the…

Volume 4, Issue , 01 August 2017, Pp 9-15
J. G.Coen van Hassselt | Ravi Iyengar

Treatable traits and therapeutic targets: Goals for systems biology in infectious disease

© 2017 The Author(s). Among the many medical applications of systems biology, we contend that infectious disease is one of the most important and tractable targets. We take the view that the complexity of the immune system is an inevitable consequence of its evolution, and this complexity has frustrated reductionist efforts to develop host-directed therapies for infection. However, since hosts vary widely in susceptibility and tolerance to infection, host-directed therapies are likely to be…

Volume 2, Issue , 01 April 2017, Pp 140-146
Clark D. Russell | J. Kenneth Baillie

In silico analysis of human metabolism: Reconstruction, contextualization and application of genome-scale models

© 2017 Elsevier Ltd. The arising prevalence of metabolic diseases calls for a holistic approach for analysis of the underlying nature of abnormalities in cellular functions. Through mathematic representation and topological analysis of cellular metabolism, GEnome scale metabolic Models (GEMs) provide a promising framework for uncovering the mechanistic relationship between genotype and phenotype. GEMs hereby enable uncovering associations between cellular physiology and pathology in a…

Volume 2, Issue , 01 April 2017, Pp 29-38
Jun Geng | Jens Nielsen

Population epigenetics

© 2017 Elsevier Ltd. The field of epigenetics is maturing, with increased interest in understanding the normal regulation of the genome and the possibility that it becomes reprogrammed aberrantly as part of the cause of disease phenotypes. Applying the current technologies and insights to the study of human populations is potentially a way of understanding mechanisms and consequences of these diseases. When extended to encompass health care disparities, understanding why certain populations are…

Volume 1, Issue , 01 February 2017, Pp 84-89
John M. Greally

Perspectives on Big Data applications of health information

© 2017 Elsevier Ltd. Recent advances on prospective monitoring and retrospective analysis of health information at national or regional level are generating high expectations for the application of Big Data technologies that aim to analyze at real time high-volumes and/or complex of data from healthcare delivery (e.g., electronic health records, laboratory and radiology information, electronic prescriptions, etc.) and citizens' lifestyles (e.g., personal health records, personal monitoring…

Volume 3, Issue , 01 June 2017, Pp 36-42
Isaac Cano | Akos Tenyi | Emili Vela | Felip Miralles | Josep Roca

The genetic architecture of molecular traits

© 2017 Elsevier Ltd. Most diseases have both an environmental and genetic component. Although many diseases are strongly heritable, individual genetic variants typically confer only a small effect on disease, and thus these diseases are strongly polygenic. Paradoxically, molecular traits, such as gene expression, methylation, protein or metabolite levels, typically have a lower heritability, but sometimes individual genetic variants show much higher effect sizes on these traits. In this review,…

Volume 1, Issue , 01 February 2017, Pp 25-31
Annique Claringbould | Niek de Klein | Lude Franke

Ecological systems biology: The dynamics of interacting populations

© 2016. Ecological systems biology integrates theory and experiments in simple laboratory systems to study how interactions between individuals determine the emergent properties of complex biological communities. This approach reveals parallels between ecological dynamics that result from interactions between populations, and evolutionary dynamics which result from analogous interactions within a population. Tractable microbial systems enable systematic testing of theoretical predications, and…

Volume 1, Issue , 01 February 2017, Pp 114-121
Jonathan Friedman | Jeff Gore

Applying Systems Medicine in the clinic

© 2017 Elsevier Ltd. Current approaches to Systems Medicine are mostly research-focused and concentrate on emergent properties on the cellular level (e.g., cancer) based on descriptions of molecular complexity. Initial steps to integrate tissue, organ and organism levels exist and must extend to environmental and social systems even if not every aspect of humanity can be represented (yet). Systems Medicine provides a paradigm shift from parts-oriented reductionism to process-oriented holism…

Volume 3, Issue , 01 June 2017, Pp 77-87
Dieter Maier

Structure meets function: How chromatin organisation conveys functionality

© 2017 The Author(s). Understanding how the genome is compacted in a highly ordered structure that fits in the eukaryotic nucleus, while keeping its capacity of orchestrating the functionality of the cell, is one of the long-standing questions in biology. While the recent technological advances in chromosome conformation capture experiments have provided extensive knowledge about the structural organisation of chromatin, our understanding of the functional impact of these arrangements on…

Volume 1, Issue , 01 February 2017, Pp 129-136
Mariana Ruiz-Velasco | Judith B. Zaugg

Chemical genetics in drug discovery

© 2017 The Authors. Chemical-genetic approaches are based on measuring the cellular outcome of combining genetic and chemical perturbations in large-numbers in tandem. In these approaches the contribution of every gene to the fitness of an organism is measured upon exposure to different chemicals. Current technological advances enable the application of chemical genetics to almost any organism and at an unprecedented throughput. Here we review the underlying concepts behind chemical genetics,…

Volume 4, Issue , 01 August 2017, Pp 35-42
Elisabetta Cacace | George Kritikos | Athanasios Typas

From perception to action in songbird production: Dynamics of a whole loop

© 2017 Elsevier Ltd. Birdsong emerges when a set of highly interconnected brain areas manage to generate a complex output. This consists of precise respiratory rhythms as well as motor instructions to control the vocal organ configuration. In this way, during birdsong production, dedicated cortical areas interact with life-supporting ones in the brainstem, such as the respiratory nuclei. We discuss an integrative view of this interaction together with a widely accepted "top-down" representation…

Volume 3, Issue , 01 June 2017, Pp 30-35
Ana Amador | Santiago Boari | Gabriel B. Mindlin

Systems biology in the central nervous system: A brief perspective on essential recent advancements

© 2017 Elsevier Ltd. As recent advances in human genetics have begun to more rapidly identify the individual genes contributing to risk of psychiatric disease, the spotlight now turns to understanding how disruption of these genes alters the brain, and thus behavior. Compared to other tissues, cellular complexity in the brain provides both a substantial challenge and a significant opportunity for systems biology approaches. Current methods are maturing that will allow for finally defining the…

Volume 3, Issue , 01 June 2017, Pp 67-76
Joseph D. Dougherty | Chengran Yang | Allison M. Lake

Measuring higher-order drug interactions: A review of recent approaches

© 2017 Elsevier Ltd. Using drugs in combination can be important in therapeutic strategies, both to decrease the risk of toxic side effects as well as to decrease the likelihood of resistance evolving. These properties are largely affected by interactions among drugs. Given the increased use of three or more drugs in clinics, we provide a review of challenges researchers face when studying higher-order drug interactions together with a review of current theoretical and methodological advances…

Volume 4, Issue , 01 August 2017, Pp 16-23
Elif Tekin | Van M. Savage | Pamela J. Yeh

Designing and interpreting 'multi-omic' experiments that may change our understanding of biology

© 2017 Published by Elsevier Ltd. Most biological mechanisms involve more than one type of biomolecule, and hence operate not solely at the level of either genome, transcriptome, proteome, metabolome or ionome. Datasets resulting from single-omic analysis are rapidly increasing in throughput and quality, rendering multi-omic studies feasible. These should offer a comprehensive, structured and interactive overview of a biological mechanism. However, combining single-omic datasets in a meaningful…

Volume 6, Issue , 01 December 2017, Pp 37-45
Robert Haas | Aleksej Zelezniak | Jacopo Iacovacci | Stephan Kamrad | St John Townsend | Markus Ralser