Erzsébet Ravasz Regan

 Regulatory Networks 
 Configuration networks 
 Hierarchy in networks 
 Metabolic networks 
 CVBR Course 
 CVBR Journal Club - Noise  
 Teaching Experience 
 Teaching Statement 
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The complexity of cellular networks

CVBR - Fall
RN Conference Room 2nd floor
Time: 12 PM, 2nd and 4th Tuesdays of each month

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Instructor: Erzsébet Ravasz Regan
Office: RN-270H
Office hours: 1-3 PM on Tuesdays after the course
Email: eregan@bidmc.harvard.edu
Phone: 617-667-3040

CVBR course syllabus (pdf)
 Syllabus (pdf) 

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    The Complexity of Cellular Networks is an informal course (no credits, no requirements) that offers a broad overview of interdisciplinary research linking statistical physics and molecular biology. It is intended for postdocs, visiting students and interested faculty members of the Center for Vascular Biology Research. There is no prerequisite or formal requirement for attendance, and no prior familiarity with concepts in statistical physics will be assumed.


    The overall goal of this course is to open a window into interdisciplinary research at the boundary of statistical physics and molecular biology, biased towards results related to complex networks research. It showcases the types of problems interesting to both physicists and molecular biologists, thus aiming to foster communication and collaboration between researchers from radically different backgrounds. Expected outcomes of the course:

  • Basic familiarity and understanding of the main biology-related results in complex networks, along with parallels to similar phenomena in non-biological settings
  • Raising awareness of the non-linear nature of genetic regulation, along with tools to model nonlinear aspects
  • Opening a dialog about the importance and danger of simplifications inherent as well as necessary for modeling
  • Awareness on the part of attending wet-bench biologists of the types of problems that would interest a fellow physicist


    The course is designed to provide an overview of selected research topics. The typical class session will consist of:

  • A 40 minute presentation of the research topic, accompanied by handouts of the presentation citing all relevant reference material, also made available on-line
  • The presentation will be followed by 20 minutes of questions and discussion



1. Meet complex networks.
Brief history of networks
Structural features of complex networks
Biological networks in their context
2. Dynamics on complex networks.
Selected results relevant to biological networks
Upcoming topics related to dynamics on biological networks
3. Modeling transcriptional regulation, one promoter at a time.
Statistical mechanics on promoters
Dynamical aspects of transcription
Noise in gene transcription
4. The logic of genetic regulation.
Boolean models and beyond
Network motifs in genetic regulatory networks
5. Regulatory models that mimic phenotype and dynamics 1.
The choices in modeling
Boolean models: stable steady states and noise
6. Regulatory models that mimic phenotype and dynamics 2.
Boolean models: stable cycles and noise
7. Transcriptional regulation from microarray data.
Review of main reverse engineering methods
Highlights of successes
Problems of missing information


8. Modeling the full cellular regulatory system 1.
Multi-stability of a complex system and cell types
Modularity and hierarchy in the regulatory network
9. Modeling the full cellular regulatory system 2.
Results in differentiation
Mutations and noise in genetic regulation
Implications for cancer
10. Protein interaction networks.
11. Networks in protein folding.
12. Metabolic networks.
13. Neural networks.
14. Physiological signal complexity and disease.