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Foreward

Second Messenger Control Systems is a course in practical mathematical modeling of biological systems. I have taught this course or one like it for 20 years. Students have always come to this course with widely differing backgrounds and experiences. Some have great depth in their mathematical or engineering training; others are already deeply involved in a particular research project in experimental biology. Judging from the comments of former students, the course is surprisingly successful at accomodating the needs of both beginners and experienced biologists. In part this is because the course is a project course in which each of you will, at your own pace, construct a dynamic model of a cellular system that is of interest to you.

My secret to keeping your interest is simple. You choose your own project, and you work on it every moment you can spare for a full semester. If you choose a system that interests you, the more you explore it, the more interesting it gets. We are scheduled to spend 2 hours each week in lecture/discussion and 2 hours each week at the computers. If you will devote from 4 to 8 out-of-class hours a week to this course, there is an excellent chance that you will discover something about your biological system that no one has ever known before. In other words, I'm asking you to make the transition from learning what has been learned by others to learning something new for yourself. My predictions are based on years of experience with students who had backgrounds like yours. I am confident that if you make time for this course, you will succeed in finding, as Jacob Bronowski said, "...a secret of nature open in the palm of your hand".


Preface