Biochemical Systems Toolbox
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The field of biochemical systems modeling and analysis is faced with an unprecedented flood of data from experimental methodologies of molecular biology. While these techniques continue to leapfrog ahead in the speed, volume and finesse with which they generate data, the methods of data analysis and interpretation, however, are still playing the catch-up game. The notions of systems analysis have found a new foothold, under the banner of Systems Biology, with the promise of uncovering the rationale for the designs of biological systems from their parts lists, as they are generated by experimentation and sorted and managed by bioinformatics tools. With an aim to complement hypothesis-driven and reductionistic biological research, and not replace it, a systems biologist relies on the tools of mathematical and computational modeling to be able to contribute meaningfully to any ongoing bio-molecular systems research. These systems analysis tools, however, should not only have their roots steeped well in the theoretical foundations of biochemistry, mathematics and numerical computation, but they should be married to a framework that facilitates the required systems way of thought for all its users computational scientists, experimentalists and molecular biologists alike. Hopefully, such framework-based tools would go beyond just providing fancy GUIs, numerical packages for integrating ODEs and/or optimization libraries. The intent of this thesis is to present a framework and toolbox for biochemical systems modeling, with an application in metabolic pathway analysis and/or metabolic engineering. The research presented here builds upon the tenets of a very well established and generic approach to biological systems modeling and analysis, called Biochemical Systems Theory (BST), which is almost forty years old. The nuances of modeling and practical hurdles to analysis are presented in the context of a real-time case study of analyzing the glucolytic pathway in the bacterium Lactococcus lactis. Alongside, the thesis presents the features of a MATLAB-based software application that has been built upon the framework of BST and is aptly named as Biochemical Systems Toolbox (BSTBox). The thesis presents novel contributions, made by the author during the course of his research, to state-of-the-art techniques in parameter estimation, and robustness and sensitivity analysis topics that, as this thesis will show, remain to be the most restrictive bottlenecks in the world of biological systems modeling and analysis.