Malaria as a complex system
Professor Karen Day
+61 3 8344 7644
The science of complexity investigates how relationships between a system's parts give rise to its collective behaviours and how the system interacts and forms relationships with its environment. The study of complex systems regards collective, or system-wide, behaviours as the fundamental object of study. For this reason, complex systems can be understood as an alternative paradigm to reductionism, which attempts to explain systems in terms of their constituent parts and the individual interactions between them. We have been applying complex system analysis to better understand malaria transmission in the context of diversity of the parasite and its interaction with the immune system. This approach involves using computational biology to observe patterns in complex parasite genetic data describing the transmission system. This research has been undertaken through a long-standing collaboration with Prof. Pascual (University of Chicago, Chicago, US) and was recently included in the Complexity Research collection for Nature Communications. We are also studying density dependant regulation of malaria parasitemia in vitro as a complex system using multi-omics and computational approaches.
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