The International Study Group for Systems Biology is a loose collective of international researchers interested in advancing the biological sciences through exploring the interplay between theory and experiment. From 1989 to 2004, the collective went under the name of the International Study Group for BioThermoKinetics (or BTK) and organized workshops every two years. Details of some of the previous meetings are listed below. In 2004, at its Oxford meeting, the group decided that the emergent term ‘Systems Biology’ was a more accurate and meaningful description of its concerns, and accordingly changed its name to International Study Group for BioThermoKinetics which at the Trakai meeting in 2006 was again changed to the current name, International Study Group for Systems Biology (ISGSB). However, most of the group would consider that BTK had in many respects anticipated the development of Systems Biology, and its members were Systems Biologists before they knew it, just as Harry Kroto was in retrospect a nanotechnologist though he did not know that at the time.

Are there theoretical approaches that can help to bridge the gap between the molecules of the cell and physiology and phenotype? In the firm belief that there are, the ISGSB holds biennial workshops to provide a forum for a vivid exchange of ideas between experimenters with a keen eye for quantitative aspects, theoreticians with a keen eye for the experimental practice and those in between. A long-standing concern of the ISGSB has been theoretical approaches to understanding the behaviour of cell systems, particularly transport, metabolism and signal transduction. A key theme of the 2008 meeting will be to address whether the two different schools of Systems Biology, the top-down and the bottom-up have a chance of meeting in the future and how we might achieve this.

The International Study Group of Systems Biology is a self-organising collective devoted to the quantitative understanding of the kinetics, thermodynamics and control of biological processes at the cellular level. There are no specially-invited speakers. Everyone attends on an equal basis and is encouraged to bring a poster, since the poster sessions and round table discussions are a central feature of the workshop.

The workshops of the ISGSB are over-seen by an international commitee.

There is also a special interest group within the ISGSB for students and early career researchers known as the Young ISGSB. It has its own Facebook group and is planning additional activities and events.