Systematic: How Systems Biology Is Transforming Modern Medicine

Systematic: How Systems Biology Is Transforming Modern Medicine

by James R. Valcourt


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A brilliant young scientist introduces us to the fascinating field that is changing our understanding of how the body works and the way we can approach healing.

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 together—how 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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781632860293
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Publication date: 02/07/2017
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 1,218,676
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

James R. Valcourt is pursuing a Ph.D. in systems biology at Harvard University. As a former researcher at D. E. Shaw Research in New York City, he used supercomputer simulations to study pharmaceutical drugs. He is a recipient of the quarter-million-dollar Hertz Foundation Graduate Fellowship, and graduated magna cum laude from Princeton University with an A.B. in molecular biology, receiving the Pyne Prize. This is his first book and he lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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

Epilogue 233

Acknowledgments 235

Notes 237

Index 267

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