COMBINE & de.NBI Tutorial: Modelling and Simulation Tools in Systems Biology

Dates: Saturday, October 27th, 2018 (9:00 - 18:00)
Location: Lyon, France

Hosted by: HITS - Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Studies

The participation in the tutorial is free of charge.

This tutorial workshop is a satellite of the 19th International Conference on Systems Biology (ICSB).
Participants will learn how to set up computer models of biological systems (e.g. metabolic or signalling networks) using experimental kinetic data and how to simulate them in different systems biology platforms. Hands-on sessions, lectures and software demonstrations will be included, providing attendees with the necessary skills to access experimental kinetics data from available resources, to assemble computer models with these data, and finally to simulate the generated models using simulation tools. Also handling and exchange of biological models based on existing community standards will be demonstrated along with the basic principles of the underlying standard formats.

The topics will include: • Model setup using different software tools and systems biology platforms • Using experimental data for setting up quantitative models • Parameter estimation, optimization and model fitting • Simulation, analysis and visualization of biochemical models, and multicellular modelling • Constraint-based and logical modeling of metabolic and signaling networks • Database supported modelling: integrated data management and model databases • Community standards and formats for systems and synthetic biology models

Target audience
Experimentalists and modellers with some very basic experience in modelling and simulation of biological networks and everybody who would like to learn more about the tools and standards. Attendees are expected to bring their own computer.





Travel Information and Accommodation

Additional Information




There will be short presentations about the covered tools, databases and modeling standards, as well as hands-on sessions and software demonstrations for practical training. It will be demonstrated how the different tools can be used in concerted modeling workflows. It is planned to have joint demo and hands-on sessions in the afternoon with the FAIRDOM workshop (FAIR Data Management in Life-Sciences), that will be running in parallel at the same venue:

Agenda outline:

09.00-10.30 Introduction lessons: Tools and Data Resources for Modeling and Simulation
09:00 – 09:05 Introduction (Martin Golebiewski, HITS, Heidelberg, Germany)
09:05 – 09:15 de.NBI (Maja Rey, HITS, Heidelberg, Germany)
09:15 – 09:35 COMBINE (Martin Golebiewski, HITS, Heidelberg, Germany)
09:35 – 09:55 SABIO-RK (Andreas Weidemann, HITS, Heidelberg, Germany)
09:55 – 10:15 CellDesigner (Akira Funahashi, Keio University, Yokohama, Japan)
10:15 – 10:35 COPASI (Jürgen Pahle, Heidelberg University, Germany)

10.35-11.00 Coffee break

11.00-12.30 Introduction lessons: Tools and Data Resources for Modeling and Simulation
11:00 – 11:20 BioModels (Rahuman Sheriff, EMBL-EBI, Hinxton, UK)
11:20 – 11:40 CellNetAnalyzer (Axel von Kamp, Max Planck Institute for Dynamics of Complex Technical Systems, Germany)
11:40 – 12:00 Morpheus (Walter de Back, TU Dresden, Germany)
12:00 – 12:20 JWS online (Jacky Snoep, Stellenbosch University, South Africa)
12:20 – 12:30 SEEK/FAIRDOMhub (Martin Golebiewski, HITS, Heidelberg, Germany)

12.30-14.00 Lunch break (provided by the organizers): Restaurant ZAPPO

The afternoon session will be a joint session with the Workshop FAIR Data Management in Life-Sciences. There are 4 different tracks, with sessions to choose from. You can swap tracks through the afternoon.

14.00-18.00 COMBINE & de.NBI Hands-on Track 1
14.00-16.00 SABIO-RK (30 min demo/hands-on) and COPASI (1.5 h hands-on)
16.00-16.30 Coffee break
16.30-18.00 SEEK/FAIRDOMhub (30 min demo) and JWS online (1 h hands-on)

14.00-18.00 COMBINE & de.NBI Hands-on Track 2
14.00-16.00 CellDesigner (1 h hands-on) and CellNetAnalyzer (1 h hands-on)
16.00-16.30 Coffee break
16.30-18.00 BioModels (30 min demo) and Morpheus (1 h hands-on)

14.00-18.00 FAIRDOM Track 1 (shared with Workshop FAIR Data Management in Life-Sciences)
14.00-16.00 SEEK advanced training
16.00-16.30 Coffee break
16.30-18.00 openBIS advanced training

14.00-18.00 FAIRDOM Track 2 (shared with Workshop FAIR Data Management in Life-Sciences)
14.00-16.00 Metadata integration between platforms
16.00-16.30 Coffee break
16.30-18.00 Attendee guided breakouts

Covered tools, platforms and databases

Introduced standard formats

Some commonly used community standards for model and modelling data exchange, as well as for model visualization will be introduced (SBGN, SBML and SED-ML) in practical examples using the covered tools. More information about the standards can be found on the COMBINE (Computational Modeling in Biology Network) website:

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The participation in the tutorial is free of charge, but please register by October 12th, 2018 (final extended deadline!)


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Ecole Normale Supérieure de Lyon
Site Monod
Main reception desk is at 46 Allée d'Italie, 69007 Lyon.
Entrance for the workshop building (MGN2) is just opposite.

Beware that ENS de Lyon has 2 locations in the same area so that some of the street signs leads to the wrong location. The map at
clearly illustrates the situation.

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Travel Information and Accommodation

Please refer to the ICSB website for travel details:


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Attendees are expected to bring their own computer for hands-on training.

In order to profit best from the offered training you should pre-install the following software:


CellDesigner is a structured diagram editor for drawing gene-regulatory and biochemical networks. By using CellDesigner, you can browse and modify existing SBML models with references to existing databases, and simulate and view the dynamics through an intuitive graphical interface. Networks are able to link with simulation and other analysis packages through Systems Biology Workbench (SBW). CellDesigner supports simulation and parameter scan by an integration with SBML ODE Solver, SBML Simulation Core and Copasi.
Download and Install CellDesigner 4.4


COPASI is a software tool for handling, simulating, and analysing kinetic models of biochemical reaction networks. It is intended for biologists who are not experts in numerical algorithms or programming languages. The tutorial will give an overview over the features of COPASI, such as deterministic and stochastic simulation, parameter scans, sensitivities and control analysis. It will then focus on parameter estimation. We will provide model files for download in this space, so if you want to follow along the presentation on your own computer, please download the latest COPASI version 4.24 (Build 197) from the website and install it on your computer.


CellNetAnalyzer (CNA) is a MATLAB toolbox providing a graphical user interface and various (partially unique) computational methods and algorithms for exploring structural and functional properties of metabolic, signaling, and regulatory networks. Computations can be started within the GUI (interactive network maps) or from command line (via API functions).

Please prepare the tutorial beforehand:
1) Install MATLAB on your computer:
2) Download CellNetAnalyzer via

and follow then the (few) instructions for installing.


Morpheus is a modeling and simulation environment for the study of multiscale and multicellular systems. Please download the most recent version Morpheus 2.0 (released on October 24th 2018):

You should also have a look at these online tools, databases and data management systems that will be introduced in detail during the tutorial workshop:

BioModels database

BioModels Database serves as a reliable repository of computational models of biological processes. It hosts models described in peer-reviewed scientific literature and models generated automatically from pathway resources (Path2Models). A large number of models collected from literature are manually curated and semantically enriched with cross-references from external data resources. The resource allows scientific community to store, search and retrieve mathematical models of their interest. In addition, features such as generation of sub-models, online simulation, conversion of models into different representational formats, and programmatic access via web services, are provided.


SEEK is a web-based platform, with associated tools, for finding, sharing and exchanging data, models and processes in Systems Biology. It is designed as data management platform to support systems biology consortia and distributed research networks. It is used, among others, in the European ERASysAPP (ERA-Net for Systems Biology Applications) network (, as well as in the German Liver Systems Network LiSyM (

JWS Online

JWS Online is both a repository of curated biochemical pathway models and a simulation tool for these models. Users are able to view the models in the database, select a particular model, alter its parameters and perform a simulation on it. JWS Online is based on a client-server architecture, with the calculations performed on the server side. All that is required on the client side is a browser which is able to run Java applets.


SABIO-RK is a curated database that contains information about biochemical reactions, their kinetic rate equations with parameters and experimental conditions. The data is either manually extracted from published literature or directly submitted by experimenters. The system offers standardized data by the use of controlled vocabularies and annotations pointing to other resources and biological ontologies. SABIO-RK enables the access to kinetic data for experimentalists and modellers, supporting the setup of quantitative computer models.

Additional Information

Internet Access

The meeting rooms have wireless internet access. More information will be provided on-site.


Martin Golebiewski
Phone: +49-6221-533-281
FAX: +49-6221-533-298
Schloss-Wolfsbrunnenweg 35
D-69118 Heidelberg

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Funding Acknowledgements

Support for this COMBINE tutorial is provided by the following organisations:


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