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Dr Sylvia Nagl
Darwin Building
  • Senior Lecturer
  • Structural & Molecular Biology
  • Div of Biosciences
  • Faculty of Life Sciences

Dr Nagl holds a BSc. Hons (First Class) and a PhD in Molecular Cell Biology, and has been a member of UCL since 1999. Prior to taking up her appointment at UCL, she was a research fellow at the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center (USA) and an International Post-Doctoral Fellow holding an independent fellowship in computational biology at the BioMolecular Engineering Research Center in Boston (USA) which was jointly founded by Harvard Medical School, Dana Faber Cancer Center and Boston University.

Research Summary

Dr Sylvia Nagl is an interdisciplinary complexity scientist who has contributed pioneering research to key questions in biomedicine, notably cancer research, modelling of biological systems and large-scale complex systems simulation. 

Sylvia edited and published the first full-length text on Cancer Bioinformatics in 2006. This was followed in 2010 by the publication of a ground-breaking book of original research on The Role of Model Integration in Complex Systems Modelling. This book presents a solution to one of the grand challenges of systems biology, i.e., the integration of independently created mathematical models across spatio-temporal scales.

Sylvia has been a Principal Investigator on large eHealth projects such as Cancergrid (2005-2008, Medical Research Council) and Virtual Physiological Human (2008-2011, European Union).

Her current work is situated within the emerging discipline of Planetary Health and focuses on the interdependence of humans with urban and natural systems. 'Health' depends on these relationships acting together in a life-enhancing way. Interconnectedness is central to the health of individuals and communities, and the well-being of the living planet Earth.

Within the framework of Planetary Health, Sylvia has been working with communities facing severe water and air pollution. These collaborative projects use digital media for documenting complex health challenges in a rapidly changing world by those most affected. 

Sylvia has advised the United Nations (UNITAR-UNOSAT) on community-based disaster reporting using digital media to map environmental destruction and support relief efforts in an acute crisis.

 In January 2016, Sylvia was invited to speak on Planetary Health at the Assembly of Useful Art, Science and Technology as part of Arts Catalyst's multi-faceted project Notes from the Field: Commoning Practices in Art and Science.

Sylvia is an invited speaker at the upcoming conference Inclusive Cities convened by Jamia Milia Islamia University, Delhi, in December 2016.

Teaching Summary

Dr Nagl lectures on complexity in biomedicine, and contributes to courses in bioinformatics, cardiovascular disease and cancer.

Sylvia: "In my lectures I am addressing how computational systems biology and a complex systems methodology can be applied to enhance understanding of major diseases such as cancer and heart disease. Here I am emphasising the interconnectedness between environmental conditions, such as urban air pollution, the body as a whole, and specific physiological biomolecular systems. I am seeking to generate student interest in these causative connections that will become increasingly important for the health challenges of the 21st century."

01-OCT-2008 Senior Lecturer Department of Structural and Molecular Biology UCL, United Kingdom
15-DEC-2002 Senior Lecturer Department of Oncology UCL, United Kingdom
15-FEB-1999 Senior Research Fellow Department of Structural and Molecular Biology UCL, United Kingdom
01-DEC-1996 Post-Doctoral Fellow BioMolecular Engineering Research Center Boston University, United States
Academic Background
1996 PhD Doctor of Philosophy – Molecular and Cellular Biology University of Canterbury
1990 BSc Hons Bachelor of Science (Honours) – Molecular Biology University of Canterbury
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