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Open Access Correspondence

Bridging the gap between systems biology and medicine

Gilles Clermont1*, Charles Auffray2, Yves Moreau3, David M Rocke4, Daniel Dalevi5, Devdatt Dubhashi5, Dana R Marshall6, Peter Raasch7, Frank Dehne8, Paolo Provero9, Jesper Tegner10, Bruce J Aronow11, Michael A Langston12 and Mikael Benson13

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Critical Care Medicine and CRISMA laboratory, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Scaife 602, 3550 Terrace, Pittsburgh, PA 15261, USA

2 Functional Genomics and Systems Biology for Health, CNRS Institute of Biological Sciences, 7, rue Guy Moquet, BP8 94801 Villejuif Cedex, France

3 K.U. Leuven, ESAT/SCD, Kasteelpark Arenberg 10, B-3001 Leuven-Heverlee, Belgium

4 Department of Public Health Sciences, University of California, Davis, One Shields Ave, Davis, CA 95616, USA

5 Department of Computer Science and Engineering. Chalmers and Göteborg University, SE 41296, Göteborg, Sweden

6 Department of Surgery, Meharry Medical College, 1005 Dr. D.B. Todd Boulevard, Nashville, TN 37208, USA

7 Systems Biology and Bioinformatics Group, University of Rostock, Universitätsplatz 1, 18055 Rostock, Germany

8 School of Computer Science, Carleton University, 1125 Colonel By Drive, Ottawa, Ontario K1S 5B6, Canada

9 Computational Biology Unit Molecular Biotechnology Center, University of Torino, Via Nizza 52, I, 10126 Torino, Italy

10 Institutionen för Medicin, Karolinska Universitetssjukhuset, Solna, 171 76 Stockholm, Sweden

11 Computational Medicine Center, University of Cincinnati, 3333 Burnet Avenue, Cincinnati, OH 45229, USA

12 Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, College of Engineering, University of Tennessee, 1122 Volunteer Boulevard, Knoxville, TN 37996, USA

13 The Unit for Clinical Systems Biology, The Queen Silvia Children's Hospital, Gothenburg 40530, Sweden

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Genome Medicine 2009, 1:88  doi:10.1186/gm88

Published: 29 September 2009

Abstract

Systems biology has matured considerably as a discipline over the last decade, yet some of the key challenges separating current research efforts in systems biology and clinically useful results are only now becoming apparent. As these gaps are better defined, the new discipline of systems medicine is emerging as a translational extension of systems biology. How is systems medicine defined? What are relevant ontologies for systems medicine? What are the key theoretic and methodologic challenges facing computational disease modeling? How are inaccurate and incomplete data, and uncertain biologic knowledge best synthesized in useful computational models? Does network analysis provide clinically useful insight? We discuss the outstanding difficulties in translating a rapidly growing body of data into knowledge usable at the bedside. Although core-specific challenges are best met by specialized groups, it appears fundamental that such efforts should be guided by a roadmap for systems medicine drafted by a coalition of scientists from the clinical, experimental, computational, and theoretic domains.