Systems biology is an interdisciplinary approach using theoretical and computational methods to understand complex biological systems. Understanding the principles of cellular and tissue organization requires the study of collective effects from many different perspectives. Molecules organize collectively in cells and cells organize collectively in tissues. The various disciplines involved in systems biology investigate the principles underlying system behaviors and spatiotemporal processes such as the question of how tens of thousands of cells coordinate their behavior in space and time to form tissues of a given form and function. The systems biology approach brings together physicists, computer scientists, mathematicians and biologists.

Center for Systems Biology Dresden (CSBD)

“Where computer science and physics meet biology.”

Who we are

The Center for Systems Biology Dresden (CSBD) is an initiative of the Max-Planck Society in collaboration with the Technische Universität Dresden (TUD), one of the eleven German Excellence Universities. The CSBD was started in 2010 by the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics (MPI-CBG) and the Max Planck Institute for the Physics of Complex Systems (MPI-PKS) with the generous support of the Saxon State Ministry for Higher Education, Research and the Arts, the BMBF, and the Klaus Tschira Stiftung. The CSBD emerged from the joint interdisciplinary research program between MPI-CBG and MPI-PKS. Gene Myers joined the center in 2012 as its Founding Director and Tschira Chair. In 2014, Ivo Sbalzarini became the TUD Chair of Scientific Computing for Systems Biology at the center. Together with Frank Jülicher, a Director at the MPI-PKS, the center has taken shape and currently has Jan Brugues and Michael Hiller as additional Research Group Leaders within the center who are also affiliated with both Max Planck institutes.

What we do

Our vision is to develop theoretical and computational approaches to biological systems across different scales, from molecules to cells and from cells to tissues. Starting from observations of spatio-temporal phenomena, we seek multi-scale models that can explain the principles by which a system functions and that predict how it reacts to perturbations. We are interested in which simple physical and chemical rules at one molecular level generate complex, emergent behaviors at the next level? To answer such questions, we combine unique genomic technologies and quantitative microscopy with computer vision, computational science and theoretical physics.  

We are an interdisciplinary team of physicists, computer scientists, bio-informaticians, mathematicians and biologists working collaboratively to understand complex biological systems and their processes. We develop new state-of-the-art microscopy techniques and automated image analysis software to obtain quantitative information about molecular components in space and time. We also develop new theoretical and computational approaches and biophysical models to identify key mechanisms underlying biological systems.

Our Building

The CSBD is housed in a new building on the MPI-CBG campus in the immediate vicinity of the University Clinic, the Center for Regenerative Therapies (CRTD), and the Biotechnology Center (BioTec) of TUD. The ground breaking for the building was in Fall of 2014 and the building was officially inaugurated in May 2017. It houses research groups and offers space for short-term visitors and longer-term guests. The building features optics suites for custom microscopy, server rooms for our powerful computer cluster, and immersive visualization cave. The center is further being connected to the Center for Information Services and High Performance Computing of TUD through dual 6x10Gb/s links to provide fast access to their high-performance computer clusters with tens of thousands of cores.

Our Training Programs

In addition to its research activities, the CSBD runs the ELBE Ph.D. track through the Dresden International PhD program and the ELBE Fellows program. The CSBD also jointly organizes the Dresden Summer School in Systems Biology with the International Max Planck Research School for Cell, Developmental and Systems Biology.This summer school provides lectures and tutored hands-on training in spatiotemporal modeling and simulation of biological systems for students with a computational/quantitative background. It is intended primarily for Master and Diploma students of Computer Science, Physics, Engineering, Mathematics, and related areas. For more information and application, please visit