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Progress Report 2008/9

 

The progress report explains how we can use the quantitative biology described in earlier reports as a stepping stone to constructing a systems biology, one that will allow us to transform research data into new forms of information.  Now our task becomes a far more challenging one in that we must begin to partner with the very biology we are trying to understand.  When we begin to explore biology as an information system, two curious things happen.  Biology's rules become our rules and complexity - instead of being peripheral to our interest - becomes central. 

The relationship of complexity to biology is one of scale.  Biology skillfully increases complexity by assembling itself hierarchically, embedding complexities within complexities, and relentlessly generating new information.  It's an ingenious scheme given that it creates vast opportunities for new emergent properties to appear.  Such a strategy leads to extraordinary outcomes - already realized - with much more still to come.      

The question before us as scientists is whether or not we can tap into some of this remarkable cleverness swirling around biology.  To this end, the report pursues two basic strategies that may lead us in the right direction.  The first is to do whatever biology does and the second is to increase the complexity of our data.  To understand why such a strategy works, I encourage you to read the report.

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