Dr. Bridget Wilson on Systems Biology

Uploaded by NIGMS on 10.09.2010

Systems biology is really a process of understanding complex interplays at lots of different levels.
It really has to do with making connections between --
particularly when you have very large, complex data sets.
By virtue of examining things more quantitatively, more analytically, you get a better job --
a better picture of what's happening in the system.

The computational approaches really go hand in hand with the biologists and the biology problem.
They're developed
in a way that's integrated. When it works, they're integrated.
And the mathematicians and the physicists and the biologists and so forth
all talk about the problems that they want to solve.
They directly develop
mathematical modeling approaches,
bioinformatics approaches, that can get at better understanding.

We have had for a fairly long time sort of drifting of the scientific disciplines to very specified --
into subspecialties and subspecialties and you get farther and farther and farther apart.
What we're trying to do at centers like the New Mexico center and all of the national systems biology centers
is train new kinds of scientists who actually can
cross the boundaries between disciplines so that they can, you know,
bring some of the disciplines back a little closer together and have a broader
approach than some of us that are sort of set in our ways, perhaps.

So I've now sat on committees for students in mathematics departments, the computer and electrical engineering department,
the computer science department. And
over the last five years as we were planning our center and beginning to integrate the medical school campus, which
can be separated by a street that's narrow but a gulf that's large,
it's been such a pleasure to find that
these students are so interested in these problems and really getting their clever minds to work on
biology that they thought they might never be interested in doing. And
it's also enriched the environment for the biomedical science graduate students
because now they think more analytically, they can learn how to form teams.
So for me it's been a wonderful pleasure because the kids are really smart,
the postdoctoral trainees are also very clever and very versatile.
We hope that we're developing a new academic species that can
bridge this gap a little more naturally.