Skip to content
Register Sign in Wishlist

The Inner Workings of Life
Vignettes in Systems Biology

  • Date Published: May 2016
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781316604427


Add to wishlist

Other available formats:
Hardback, eBook

Looking for an inspection copy?

This title is not currently available on inspection

Product filter button
About the Authors
  • Living systems are dynamic and extremely complex and their behaviour is often hard to predict by studying their individual parts. Systems biology promises to reveal and analyse these highly connected, regulated and adaptable systems, using mathematical modelling and computational analysis. This new systems approach is already having a broad impact on biological research and has potentially far-reaching implications for our understanding of life. Written in an informal and non-technical style, this book provides an accessible introduction to systems biology. Self-contained vignettes each convey a key theme and are intended to enlighten, provoke and interest readers of different academic disciplines, but also to offer new insight to those working in the field. Using a minimum amount of jargon and no mathematics, Voit manages to convey complex ideas and give the reader a genuine sense of the excitement that systems biology brings with it, as well as the current challenges and opportunities.

    • Fulfils a growing demand for a more introductory overview of systems biology for students and researchers in the life sciences and other scientific disciplines, as well as for the general public
    • Tells the story of systems biology without using equations or jargon, making the book accessible to a wide audience
    • Conveys the huge excitement and potential of the field as well as the implications for personalized medicine, predictive health, drug development, food and energy generation and beyond
    Read more

    Reviews & endorsements

    'Popular science books have enabled the public to gain an appreciation for advances in a variety of esoteric disciplines ranging from chaos theory to evolutionary biology. But we lack a 'fun read' for the emerging field of systems biology, which is bringing together computer scientists, physicists and biologists to figure out the complex inner workings of living cells. Eberhard O. Voit has filled that gap with his new book. Voit provides the reader with an insider's tour of systems biology, providing us [with] a sense of how this exciting field will change our lives in the coming years. Impress and challenge your book club with this new offering.' James J. Collins, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University, Massachusetts

    'This delightful book provides a very readable overview of the emerging field of systems biology. The author, an expert in the field, describes fundamental concepts and tools in systems biology in a conversational style that makes the material very accessible to non-experts and a joy to read. The combination of interesting conceptual information, humor, history, and anecdotes makes this book hard to put down. And no need to worry about the technical mathematics underlying much of systems biology; there is not a single equation in the book! So if you are interested in learning something about negative feedback loops, adaptation, small regulatory RNAs, -omics research, chaos, microarrays, data mining, genome-wide association studies, or a host of other concepts and tools without diving into the details, this is the book for you.' Richard Bertram, Florida State University

    'Now that systems biology has become an established research field, it is overdue to present it to the educated lay person. Eberhard Voit, a well-established scientist in the field, has accepted the challenge to provide a textbook without a single mathematical formula. The result is a superb ride through various topics in systems biology in form of a collection of small stand-alone vignettes: a reading enjoyment for everyone.' Andreas Kremling, Technische Universität München

    'This is an intriguing storytelling book about life written by a mastermind of systems biology. Anyone interested in the essential mechanism of living systems would greatly enjoy reading it. Dr Voit has successfully done all the 'complicated' storytelling in a clear and intuitive way without using any single equation.' Kwang-Hyun Cho, Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology

    'Voit is one of the leading systems biologists of our times. He is well known for his lucid textbooks and creative technical advances. In this gem of a book he manages to explain with clarity, insight, and subtle humor complex topics of systems biology that are still evolving, often found only in the primary literature, or hidden in the backstory of press releases attempting to create a buzz. I am sure my colleagues and non-scientist friends alike will find the book stimulating and fun to read. I venture to guess that even a young reader who is curious about such topics, like my own grandson, will find the vignettes captivating. This readable, witty account is sure to garner a wide readership.' Michael A. Savageau, University of California, Davis

    '[This] book is written by a leading figure in the field of systems biology. Previous books by the same author have become standard texts in the field and this book is again an excellent example of Eberhard Voit's outstanding communication skills. Given his standing in the field and long-standing experience, it is appropriate that he addresses with this book foundational issues. I wouldn't miss a talk by Eberhard Voit and I certainly would buy and recommend this book to anyone who is interested in understanding the complexity of living systems. The audience will not only be researchers (in various fields, from the engineering and physical sciences, to the biological and medical sciences) but the book will also appeal to a wider audience with a general interest in recent developments in the life sciences, taking a systems approach … This book is a perfect recommendation for pupils and students, encouraging them to become scientists.' Olaf Wolkenhauer, University of Rostock

    'This is a fascinating book: lucid, logical and lively, full of fascinating scientific stories [on] the inner workings of life. Professor Eberhard Voit presents his case for the systems biology approach with elegance. He illustrates how modern biology calls for an openness that transcends the traditional scientific approach and techniques, and it takes us to the heart of a more complex scientific endeavor integrating mathematics, computer science and engineering to unravel the principles of life. It is a must-read for anyone, novice or professional, interested about the foundations of life, and the present and future of research in the biomedical sciences.' Santiago Schnell, University of Michigan Medical School

    See more reviews

    Customer reviews

    Not yet reviewed

    Be the first to review

    Review was not posted due to profanity


    , create a review

    (If you're not , sign out)

    Please enter the right captcha value
    Please enter a star rating.
    Your review must be a minimum of 12 words.

    How do you rate this item?


    Product details

    • Date Published: May 2016
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781316604427
    • length: 218 pages
    • dimensions: 232 x 154 x 11 mm
    • weight: 0.36kg
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    1. Status: it's complicated
    2. I'd rather be fishin'
    3. Whizzes and apparitions
    4. Why?
    5. Simply engenious!
    6. Just a little bit
    7. Supermodels
    8. Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades
    9. Emergence preparedness
    10. Life without chaos?
    11. What God hath wrought!
    12. Tell me with whom you go and I'll tell you who you are
    13. Time for a change
    14. Can't we all get along?
    15. Love thyself and fight all others
    16. A billion dollars for your thoughts!
    17. The computer will see you now
    18. Redesigning perfect
    19. Let me go in the agorá!
    20. Dessert
    Selected further readings and citations
    Gentle jargon

  • Author

    Eberhard O. Voit, Georgia Institute of Technology
    Eberhard Voit is a pioneer and leader in systems biology with a passion for education at all levels. He is Professor and David D. Flanagan Chair in Biological Systems, as well as a Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University. He is the author of one of the leading textbooks in the field, wrote one of the first systems biology books to be published, and has written over 250 scientific articles. His research focuses on genomic, metabolic, and signalling systems with applications reaching from microbial, ecological, and plant systems to human diseases.

Sign In

Please sign in to access your account


Not already registered? Create an account now. ×

Sorry, this resource is locked

Please register or sign in to request access. If you are having problems accessing these resources please email

Register Sign in
Please note that this file is password protected. You will be asked to input your password on the next screen.

» Proceed

You are now leaving the Cambridge University Press website. Your eBook purchase and download will be completed by our partner Please see the permission section of the catalogue page for details of the print & copy limits on our eBooks.

Continue ×

Continue ×

Continue ×

Find content that relates to you

Join us online

This site uses cookies to improve your experience. Read more Close

Are you sure you want to delete your account?

This cannot be undone.


Thank you for your feedback which will help us improve our service.

If you requested a response, we will make sure to get back to you shortly.

Please fill in the required fields in your feedback submission.