Program in Systems Biology

Welcome to the Program in Systems Biology (PISB)

Background

Systems biology, which involves the integration of genomic, transcriptomic, and proteomic techniques, provides a powerful approach to understanding mechanisms of human disease and for the development of new therapeutic agents. Genomics involves mapping, sequencing, and analyzing genomes; whereas, transcriptomics is primarily concerned with analysis of the complement of mRNAs transcribed from a cell's genome. Proteomics is concerned with the analysis of complete complements of proteins in defined cell or tissues environments and their variation in space and time. However, even in simple systems statistical relationships between gene expression and protein levels can be weak. This has stimulated the use of metabonomics to provide a quantitative measurement of the multivariate metabolic responses of multicellular systems to pathophysiological stimuli or genetic manipulations. The discipline of metabolomics generally refers to metabonomics at the level of a single cell type, rather than a larger system. However, the terms metabonomics and metabolomics are increasingly becoming interchangeable. Lipids have extraordinary structural diversity and they play such an important role in the pathophysiology of disease that lipidomics has evolved as a separate discipline within the field of metabolomics. Lipidomics involves the full characterization of lipid molecular species and of their biological roles with respect to expression of proteins involved in lipid metabolism and function, including gene regulation.

Systems Biology Program

Inter-individual differences in metabolizing enzymes can confound system biology approaches to understanding the pathophysiology of disease. Such differences can also hinder the development of new therapeutic entities and pose significant problems in translating discoveries made in the laboratory into viable new drugs. The purpose of the systems biology program within the Institute for Translational Medicine and Therapeutics (ITMAT) is to bring together a multidisciplinary team of scientists to address these issues through a series of workshops. The first workshop will be held in the Spring of 2006 and will have leaders in the field discuss how a systems biology approach can be applied to translational medicine. New facility cores will be developed over the next three years in order to specifically address the needs of research into systems biology. Researchers within the systems biology program of ITMAT will guide the development of these cores. Ultimately, the Institute will have a vibrant program in systems biology with a strong underpinning from the Bioinformatics group. Currently, this group is developing (in collaboration with GenoLogics) a new laboratory information managements system that will make it possible to integrate transcript profiling, proteomics, and lipidomics data generated by the various core facilities at the University of Pennsylvania.