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Advanced Courses in Life Sciences

2nd Edition

Anatomical Network Analysis (AnNA)

September 23rd-27th, 2019, Barcelona (Spain)

Systems Biology

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Anatomical Network Analysis (AnNA)Course overview

Anatomical Network Analysis (AnNA) is a framework for quantitatively characterizing the topological organization of anatomical systems using tools from Network Theory. AnNA is emerging as a new tool to identify developmental constraints, measuring morphological complexity and modularity, building morphospaces, and modelling the growth of anatomical structures.

This course is entitled to teach the main concepts of AnNA. Students will learn the basics of network analysis applied to morphological and anatomical systems: gathering information, building network models, analysing them, and interpret the outcomes of their analysis. This course combines theoretical introductions and practical exercises using the free and open-source software R and RStudio.

Participants are encouraged to bring their own data for practicing and for the supervised project session; anatomical networks will be provided by the instructors if needed.

This course is addressed to PhD students, postdocs and senior researchers.


Institut Català de Paleontologia Miquel Crusafont (ICP)

C/ de l’Escola Industrial, 23
08201 Sabadell, Barcelona (Spain)

How to get there


September 23rd-27th, 2019




35 hours on-site.

This course is equivalent to 2 ECTS (European Credit Transfer System) at the Life Science Zurich Graduate School.

The recognition of ECTS by other institutions depends on each university or school.


Places are limited to 16 participants and will be occupied by strict registration order.

Participants who have completed the course will receive a certificate at the end of it.


Diego Rasskin-Gutman instructor for Transmitting Science

Dr. Diego Rasskin-Gutman
Cavanilles Institute of Biodiversity and Evolutionary Biology

Borja Esteve-Altava Instructor for Transmitting Science

Dr. Borja Esteve-Altava
Pompeu Fabra University


Ana Rosa Gómez-Cano coordinator at Transmitting Science

Dr. Ana Rosa Gómez-Cano
Transmitting Science

Soledad De Esteban-Trivigno instructor at Transmitting Science

Dr. Soledad De Esteban-Trivigno
Transmitting Science


Graduate or postgraduate degree in Biological, Biomedical or Paleobiological Sciences. A basic knowledge/interest in anatomy and/or morphology is required.

All participants must bring their own personal laptop (Windows, Mac OS, or Linux). Previous knowledge in R is not required but recommended, participants should install R and RStudio before the course (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d-u_7vdag-0).


Monday, September 23rd, 2019. Principles of Anatomical Network Analysis, by Dr. Diego Rasskin-Gutman and Dr. Borja Esteve-Altava.

  • Introductions and course overview.
  • Conceptual basis and history of anatomical networks analysis (AnNA).
  • Levels of organization: Differences between AnNA and morphometrics.
  • Introduction to network theory.
  • Types of nodes, links, and networks.
  • Basic network parameters.
  • Organization of the network’s topology (regular, random, small-world, scale-free, hierarchy).
  • Introduction to R.
  • Getting R and RStudio ready to work.

Tuesday, September 24th, 2019. Creating and Analysing Anatomical Networks in R, by Dr. Diego Rasskin-Gutman and Dr. Borja Esteve-Altava.

  • The igraph package and the igraph object.
  • Create the simplest networks.
  • Manipulate igraph objects and attributes.
  • Create anatomical networks from data (students are welcome to bring their own data).
  • Using AnNA to study morphological complexity, integration, and modularity.
  • The meaning of being small-world, scale-free, and hierarchical in morphology.
  • Calculate network parameters.
  • Small-world, scale-free, and hierarchical organization in networks.

Wednesday, September 25th, 2019. Null models and Modularity, by Dr. Diego Rasskin-Gutman and Dr. Borja Esteve-Altava.

  • Introduction to null models and morphospaces.
  • Create null network models in R (random, small-world, scale-free, proximity, Gabriel).
  • Generative connecto-spaces (AnNA + morphospaces).
  • Introduction to morphological modularity.
  • Identification, validation, and comparison of anatomical network modules using igraph.
  • Introducing OSLOM (Order Statistics Local Optimization Method).
  • A note on using network algorithms in morphometrics to find modules.

Thursday, September 26th, 2019. Students Projects, supervised by Dr. Borja Esteve-Altava.

  • Student will work in their own projects (in groups of 2-3 persons).

Friday, September 27th, 2019. Projects Presentations and Discussion, supervised by Dr. Borja Esteve-Altava.

  • Each team will present its work to the group for discussion and round table (15’ + 10’ Q&A).
  • AnNA discussion and brainstorming.
  • Course feedback.


  • Esteve-Altava B (2017) Challenges in identifying and interpreting organizational modules in morphology. Journal of Morphology, 278: 960-974.
  • Esteve-Altava B, Rasskin-Gutman D (2014) Beyond the functional matrix hypothesis: a network null model of human skull growth for the formation of bone articulations. Journal of Anatomy, 225 (3): 306-316.
  • Rasskin-Gutman D, Esteve-Altava B (2014) Connecting the dots: anatomical network analysis in morphological EvoDevo. Biological Theory, 9: 178-193.
  • Esteve-Altava B, Marugán-Lobón J, Bastir M, Botella H, Rasskin-Gutman D (2013) Grist for Riedl’s mill: A network model perspective on the integration and modularity of the human skull. Journal of Experimental Zoology Part B (Molecular and Developmental Evolution), 320: 489-500.
  • Esteve-Altava B, Marugán-Lobón J, Botella H, Rasskin-Gutman D (2013) Structural constraints in the evolution of the tetrapod skull complexity: Williston’s Law revisited using network models. Evolutionary Biology, 40: 209-219.
  • Rasskin-Gutman D, Buscalioni AD (2001) Theoretical morphology of the Archosaur (Reptilia: Diapsida) pelvic girdle. Paleobiology, 27: 59-78.


  • Newman MJE (2010) Networks: An Introduction, Oxford University Press, 1st Edition.
  • Newman MJE, Barabási AL, Watts DJ (2006) The structure and dynamics of networks, Princeton University Press, Princeton.


  • Course Fee
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  • Early bird (until July 31st, 2019):
  • 560 *

    (448 for Ambassador Institutions)

  • Regular (after July 31st, 2019):
  • 700 *

    (560 for Ambassador Institutions)

  • This includes course material, coffee breaks and lunches (VAT included).
    * Participants from companies/industry will have an extra charge of 100 €.

You can check the list of Ambassador Institutions HERE. If you want your institution to become a Transmitting Science Ambassador please contact us at communication@transmittingscience.org.

Discounts (see Funding below) are not cumulative and apply only on the fee.

We offer the possibility of paying in two instalments (contact the course coordinators).


The course will take place in the city of Sabadell, Barcelona (Spain). Take a look at the venue.

You may stay in Barcelona city or Sabadell. You will find information about Hotels and Hostel in Sabadell here. It takes about 45 minutes by public transport to arrive to Sabadell from the centre of Barcelona city. The place of the course is about 15 minutes walking from the train stop.


Course Schedule
  • Monday to Friday:
    • 9:30 to 13:30 Lessons.
    • 13:30 to 15:00 Lunch (included).
    • 15:00 to 18:00 Lessons.

The schedule is approximate; it is possible that the content of one day may run into the next and a working day may be longer than advertised.



Former participants will have a 5 % discount on the Course Fee.

Furthermore, a 20 % discount on the Course Fee is offered for members of some organizations (Organizations with discount). If you want to apply to this discount please indicate it in the Registration form (proof will be asked later).

Unemployed scientists living in Spain, as well as PhD students based in Spain without any grant or scholarship to develop their PhD, could benefit from a 40 % discount on the Course Fee. If you want to ask for this discount, please contact the course coordinator. That would apply for a maximum of 2 places and they will be covered by strict inscription order.

Discounts are not cumulative and apply only on the fee, not to Accommodation Package or other options.


Thanks to the donations of former participants, this year there are scholarships available for PhD students. The scholarships are in the form of tuition fee waivers only, they do not cover travelling and lodging.

If you want to apply please fill up this form. Deadline: June 30th, 2019. You should register for the course before applying.


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