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Pediatr Res. 2013 Apr;73(4 Pt 2):502-7. doi: 10.1038/pr.2013.4. Epub 2013 Jan 11.

The road from systems biology to systems medicine.

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Department of Systems Biology and Bioinformatics, University of Rostock, Rostock, Germany.


As research institutions prepare roadmaps for "systems medicine," we ask how this differs from applications of systems biology approaches in medicine and what we (should) have learned from about one decade of funding in systems biology. After surveying the area, we conclude that systems medicine is the logical next step and necessary extension of systems biology, and we focus on clinically relevant applications. We specifically discuss three related notions. First, more interdisciplinary collaborations are needed to face the challenges of integrating basic research and clinical practice: integration, analysis, and interpretation of clinical and nonclinical data for diagnosis, prognosis, and therapy require advanced statistical, computational, and mathematical tools. Second, strategies are required to (i) develop and maintain computational platforms for the integration of clinical and nonclinical data, (ii) further develop technologies for quantitative and time-resolved tracking of changes in gene expression, cell signaling, and metabolism in relation to environmental and lifestyle influences, and (iii) develop methodologies for mathematical and statistical analyses of integrated data sets and multilevel models. Third, interdisciplinary collaborations represent a major challenge and are difficult to implement. For an efficient and successful initiation of interdisciplinary systems medicine programs, we argue that epistemological, ontological, and sociological aspects require attention.

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