The theory of COMPLEXITY applied to immunology

Richard Schifreen rschifre at
Sat Feb 18 11:58:48 EST 1995

I read and enjoyed "The Theory of Complexity - Life at the Edge of 
Chaos," although I did find it a bit repetitive and self-serving in 
places.  Unfortunately, I'm not in the position to do this kind of work; 
but I think it would be a fascinating project to model the response of 
the immune system to antigenic stimulation using complexity theory.  One 
might think that it would be possible to model how the early response to 
an antigen stimulus ultimately influences the outcome (does the body win, 
or the invader) in much the same way that a random breeze occurring at 
the right time and place ultimately influences the development of a major 

Rich Schifreen          phone: 301-840-4163
Life Technologies       fax:   301-670-1493
   E-Mail: rschifre at

On 17 Feb 1995, Dave wrote:

>                         Hi everybody !
>         I'm a French student having some knowledges both in biology and in
> physics (rather than in English alas),
> and I've just read a recent book called "The theory of complexity - life at
> the edge of chaos" by the well-known scientific journalist Roger Lewin. I'm
> studying dynamic systems and have found that this book is mere genius ;
> moreover, its applications in biology, especially embryogenesis, evolution
> and last but not least, immunology are certainly very wide and very=
>  important.
>          It's a REALLY SIMPLE book so don't hesitate reading it. It's
> fascinating ! I have some ideas about some applications in immunology and
> would greatly appreciate any comment and discussion on that topic.
>         Perhap I should give you a short summary : the book deals with the
> evolution of complex systems (such as the immune net !) and about the
> auto-organisation (in life for example) ;
> - complex systems tend to come on the edge of chaos (the place where the
> greatest information can be exchanged).
> - complex systems evolve toward "attracteurs =E9tranges" as Mandelbrot named
> them. Have a look to embryogenesis !
> expecting (hoping)  answers soon,
> Dave (dkarlin at

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