Call for Papers: Special Issue on Information Theory and Thermodynamics in Biology

All living things, from the simplest bacteria to human beings, are made of cells. Fundamental understanding of living systems, both in health and in disease, depends on understanding the complex interactions among and within living cells. Multiple scientific disciplines have separately shed light on the problems of communication and organization in living systems. Biochemistry, bioinformatics and systems biology describe the basic ingredients of cells: DNA, RNA, proteins, lipids, and their interactions. Information theory, founded by Claude Shannon, provides a framework for quantifying the flow of information through any communications system, whether living or engineered (or both, as in the rapidly growing field of synthetic biology). Statistical thermodynamics, the branch of physics concerned with transformations among different forms of energy as well as with the physics of information, sets fundamental limits on the energetic price cells must pay for the information they sense (from each other, from the environment, and from their own DNA).

In recent years, significant advances in statistical thermodynamics and the information theory of biological systems have set the stage for a deeper understanding of how cells process and organize information, make decisions, predict the future, and learn from the past. An essential link between these traditionally disparate fields is the language of mathematics, which provides a common framework within which researchers can understand each other across disciplines. This special issue of Biological Cybernetics invites papers from systems biology, statistical physics, information theory, and applied mathematics that address fundamental, linking ideas among these and related areas.  The special issue is intended to be synergistic with the workshop "Mathematical Models in Biology: from Information Theory to Thermodynamics" to be held at the Banff International Research Station (BIRS) ( July 26-31, 2020. Nevertheless submission to the special issue is not restricted to workshop participants.

Biological Cybernetics (originally Kybernetik) was founded in 1961 as “A Journal Dealing with the Transmission and Processing of Information as well as with Control Processes in both Animals and Automata”. The name took inspiration from the work of Norbert Wiener, who coined the term “cybernetics”, and was among the journal's founding editors.   The journal continues a tradition of publishing rigorous, quantitative theoretical investigations of biological systems, both in computational neuroscience and other areas of theoretical and systems biology.

How to submit: To submit to the special issue, please use the online submission system and select the special issue as the article type. Open for submissions 1st July – 20th July 2020.  If you would need an extension, please get in touch.

Guest Editors: Andrew Eckford (York University, Canada); Michael Hinczewski (Case Western Reserve University, USA); Massimiliano Pierobon (University of Nebraska, Lincoln, USA); Peter Thomas (Case Western Reserve University, USA)