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Blood Cells Mol Dis. 2004 Jan-Feb;32(1):58-64.

The conceptual application of systems theory to stem cell biology: a matter of context.

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  • 1The Children's Institute for Surgical Science, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA 19104-4318, USA.


Much of our current understanding of stem cell biology is derived from reductionist observations made out of context from the functional stem cell compartment. The extrapolation of observations of cellular behavior from highly contrived experimental circumstances to intact biological systems represents an unsupportable assumption on which we currently rely. The conceptual application of systems theory to stem cell biology requires a shift in our view of experimental stem cell science toward the reality of cellular function within a complex biological system. Although the complexity of the system is beyond current mathematical modeling, the conceptual framework of systems theory can provide context to multiple controversies in stem cell biology.

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