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Biological metaphors and resilience


The project will seek inspiration from biological networks to optimize the resilience of public health systems.


Professor Albert Y. Zomaya, Professor Mathew Vadas.

Research location

Charles Perkins Centre – the Judith and David Coffey Life Lab

Program type



Many natural networks show remarkable resilience to failure of individual components, either through decentralisation of function or through adaptation and repair. What are the control strategies for such systems and how is information shared amongst components to provide this degree of robustness and integrity? We propose to develop a simplified network model for such systems and to explore these issues of control and information sharing and their effects on overall system robustness. One hypothesis is that subsets of components contain all network information, used both to replicate lost information and to enable repair of the local network structure. A second hypothesis is that the control structure allows different components to be co-opted and adapted to perform multiple purposes. The project would draw on two or three network systems; one based on a biological system, one or more on networks associated with public health. A key outcome is to elucidate architectures that convey integrity and to determine how systems might be improved or how interventions should be designed in a more optimal way.

Additional information

The Life Lab creates a new kind of graduate and postgraduate training environment at the interface between life, social, economic and physical sciences. Its focus is to address the significant challenges we face from an unsustainable food system that degrades the environmental services it depends on, and creates significant societal health problems. A better understanding of the complexity of the environment-food-health nexus is critical. It is fundamental to building a sustainable society, and one that is more robust to future uncertainties. Our unique approach will be a world-first in shifting research on these growing challenges from treating symptoms to prevention.Life Lab will challenge existing paradigms and university models to create a research training environment in which traditional disciplinary boundaries do not apply. Our ambitious vision is to create an ‘innovation hub' where researchers from disciplines spanning physical, life and social and economic sciences will interface with business, government and agency leaders. It will develop integrated approaches to the challenges that threaten societal wellbeing, and train the next generation of experts with the skills required to find solutions.

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Opportunity ID

The opportunity ID for this research opportunity is 1688

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