Shankar Subramaniam Professor Departments of Bioengineering, Chemistry and Biochemistry, Cellular and Molecular Medicine, and Nano Engineering University of California, San Diego

“Systems Biology and Medicine – Perspectives and Challenges”

A survey of all papers that refer to systems biology research over the past decade shows three striking trends. The first is one where “gene expression” studies form the core of the Systems Biology claims, the second is one where Systems Biology is treated synonymously with computational analysis of microbial or yeast systems and the third is characterized as “interactome” research where either through methods such as yeast two-hybrid or through computational “guilt-by-homology” analysis, large protein-protein interaction maps are drawn. The computational systems biologists who are data driven are reluctant to venture into mammalian systems biology since it is neither apparently elegant nor is the biology simple to master. The absence of data also makes entering into this area a more risky proposition. Experimental biologists working on complex eukaryotes, especially mammalian systems, on the other hand, would like to embrace the systems biology paradigm, but find it difficult to attract “card-carrying” systems biologists because of the significant challenges in eukaryotic systems biology.

In this talk, I will pose the challenges systems biology and medicine research faces with examples and highlight the progress through examples from my laboratory. One example deals with characterizing the parts list of the germ layers during embryonic development using a novel RNA seq methodology. Another example deals with a systems approach to insulin resistance. Cellular and tissue defects associated with insulin resistance are coincident with transcriptional abnormalities and are improved after insulin sensitization with thiazolidinedione (TZD) PPAR_ ligands. Based on study of human subjects we have identified molecular and functional characteristics of insulin resistant subjects and distinctions between TZD treatment responder and non-responder subjects. Our study towards deciphering responder-non-responder effects in Insulin Resistance at the systemic level serves as a paradigm for pharmacological studies in human subjects. A third example will address a systems approach to muscle pathophysiology.

When: Thursday, November 10 4:00 PM

Where: 1005 GBSF