Life by numbers: Systems biology and its approach to researching disease

Science is very often about chipping away at a problem one component at a time. By piecing together fragments of knowledge on how each component of a system operates in isolation, an understanding of how the entire system works can emerge.

But systems biology — an emerging field of research in the life sciences — takes a different approach. It draws together and integrates large amounts of disparate data to take an encompassing approach to the study of life and its myriad processes.

Instead of looking at one protein, or unpicking a single biochemical pathway, systems biology embraces the complexity of an entire system to find patterns and networks in the data collected.  And from these patterns seeks to explain biological behaviour and function.

In the latest episode of Up Close I spoke to systems biologist  Dr Michael Inouye to talk about his field and how he goes about researching complex biological processes, such as disease.

Mike is a Senior Research Fellow and head of the Medical Systems Biology Lab with the Department of Pathology and Microbiology & Immunology, at the University of Melbourne. He is also an Honorary Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Molecular Medicine Finland, at the University of Helsinki.

Listen to the podcast or download the script here.


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