Deepak Chandran and Herbert M. Sauro
"One of the characteristics of synthetic biology is that it often combines mathematical modeling with experimental work. The link between modeling and experiments is carried out by human researchers who have a conceptual understanding of the underlying biological system. At present, there is no method for representing a conceptual description that can be used to connect mathematical models and experimental data, especially sequence annotations, pertaining to the same underlying biological system. One reason for this limitation is that there can exist different mathematical models of the same biological system. In such cases, the same annotation in a DNA sequence would map differently to different models of the same system. In order to enable software support for synthetic biology, a software framework is needed such that it is able to capture a conceptual description of a biological system, including quantitative values, without confining itself to one mathematical model. The novel use of hierarchical modeling inside TinkerCell (www.tinkercell.com) provides one potential software solution for representing a “conceptual diagram” of a biological system. The conceptual diagram does not assume any underlying model. Rather, the diagram is mapped automatically to one of several models. The diagram can then contain information relevant for both modeling and experimental work. Computer-aided design (CAD) can be very useful to synthetic biology. CAD allows engineers to spend more effort at the design stage and less at the construction stage by automatically performing many tasks that are currently performed by human researchers. The ability to automatically link models and experimental results will be one step in the development of practical CAD systems for synthetic biology."