SYSTEMATIC is the first book to introduce general readers to systems biology, which is improving medical treatments and our understanding of living things. In traditional bottom-up biology, a biologist might spend years studying how a single protein works, but systems biology studies how networks of those proteins work togetherhow they promote health and how to remedy the situation when the system isn't functioning properly.
Breakthroughs in systems biology became possible only when powerful computer technology enabled researchers to process massive amounts of data to study complete systems, and has led to progress in the study of gene regulation and inheritance, cancer drugs personalized to an individual's genetically unique tumor, insights into how the brain works, and the discovery that the bacteria and other microbes that live in the gut may drive malnutrition and obesity. Systems biology is allowing us to understand more complex phenomena than ever before.
In accessible prose, SYSTEMATIC sheds light not only on how systems within the body work, but also on how research is yielding new kinds of remedies that enhance and harness the body's own defenses.
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About the Author
Table of Contents
Preface: The Big Idea xi
Part I The Basics
Chapter 1 Seeing the Systems in Biology: Technological Advances Are Letting Scientists Understand Living Things in a New Way 3
Chapter 2 Déjà Vu All Over Again: The Common Patterns and Principles of Natural Systems 9
Chapter 3 Americas Next Top Mathematical Model: Understanding Complex Systems Sometimes Requires Math 23
Chapter 4 Ignoring the Devil in the Details: Robustness, Prediction, Noise, and the General Properties of Systems 41
Part II Cells, Organisms, and Ecosystems
Chapter 5 Beyond Tom Hanks's Nose: Sequencing Technology Is Enabling Scientists to Study All of a Cell's Genes at Once 61
Chapter 6 The Smells of the Father: RNA, DNA Margin Notes, and the Other Missing Parts of the Cellular System 83
Chapter 7 Growing Pains: How Cells and Tissues Coordinate Development, from Egg to Adulthood 99
Chapter 8 No Organism Is an Island: The Interactions between Individuals and Species that Shape Ecosystems 113
Part III Applications
Chapter 9 Build Me a Buttercup: Using Synthetic Biology to Make Diesel Fuel Programmable Cells, and Malaria Medicine 131
Chapter 10 More Than Just 86 Billion Neurons: The Science of the Brain, and How Connections among Neurons Make It Work 153
Chapter 11 Death and Taxes: Aging Is Governed by an Organism-Wide System that We Might Be Able to Manipulate 177
Chapter 12 Your Microbiome and You: The Body Is Host to Trillions of Microbes that Affect Human Health 187
Chapter 13 This Is Your System on Drugs: Tweaking Biological Systems to Produce Better Medical Treatments 205