Micro-behaviours and BioBricks — cross discipline lessons about modularity?

As I read the following about efforts at MIT and Stanford to develop BioBricks, a modular way to develop synthetic DNA I saw a close similarity with the micro-behaviours of the Modelling4All Project.

What if this engineering approach is wrong? You can’t just break cells down into modular parts and then reassemble them, because part of what makes them function are complex interactions between parts that we don’t yet understand. What if we don’t know enough about DNA to program it as exactly as we would a computer? What if most researchers need specific parts nobody else wants, or ones more complicated than simple BioBrick parts? And ultimately, what should we try to build?

from http://www.stanfordalumni.org/news/magazine/2009/julaug/features/biology.html

These questions can be translated to our approach to building computer models out of modular pieces.  How important are interactions between parts? How often do modelling efforts require custom micro-behaviours?  In the current library micro-behaviours are “simple” but will many models need more complicated ones as well? What should we build?

Food for thought…

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