This report is embedded in the larger research project ‘Towards a Holistic Conception of Life? Epistemic Presumptions and Socio-Cultural Implications of Systems Biology’, conducted jointly by the Institute of Technology Assessment at the Austrian Academy of Sciences and the Research Centre for Biotechnology, Society, and the Environment (FSP BIOGUM) at the University of Hamburg.
It gives a first overview of the state of establishment and institutionalisation of systems biology in Austria in 2011. It is based upon a methodical investigation of scientists, institutions, research projects, university courses and publications making use of the term ‘systems biology’ in this national context and puts an emphasis on the completeness and reproducibility of the reported results. The most relevant institutions are enlisted along three categories and shortly characterised.
Overall, the state of establishment of systems biology is much less advanced than in Germany, the United Kingdom or Switzerland. It takes place on a smaller scale and is driven by a more cautious attitude. Also, it takes place in a more diverse and fragmented mode. Only a few, small institutes carry the label in their name and systems biology is (at least as a label) almost absent in university curricula.
The rightful attribution or meaning of the label ‘systems biology’ is not questioned at this point; rather, different configurations of doing systems biology are addressed tentatively by co-authorship analyses, discipline-based categorisations, historical timelines and geographical analyses. Moreover, general problems relating to such an early onwards assessment of the state of a new scientific field are discussed in the introduction.