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
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
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.