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Deconstructionist Derrida Bequeaths $10M to Fund Yale Systems Biology Institute

NEW YORK, April 1 (GenomeWeb News) - Seeking to expand systems biology beyond what it calls "the rigid confines of its traditional disciplines," Yale University will create a new systems-biology institute funded by a bequest from Jacques Derrida, the noted French intellectual who died last October.


The institute, to be called the DerridaCenterfor Postmodern Systems Biology, will be the first of its kind to be headed by a non-scientist. It also marks the first time that academics will attempt to apply Derrida's theories of "deconstruction" to systems biology.

"Who says no one but scientists and engineers can contribute to the progress of systems biology?" said Carlos Jacobin, professor of comparative literature and the new director of the DerridaCenter. "This privileges their role in the academy and suppresses diversity. We think linguists, critics, and philosophers deserve equal status with molecular biologists and software programmers in this grand collaboration."

"Researchers everywhere are being forced to acknowledge that cellular systems operate within larger rhetorical systems," said Marsha Gersten, a Yale bioinformaticist who will be joining the new Center. "Proteins do not interact; they engage in a discourse. We must deconstruct the framework."

The DerridaCenterwill allow biologists, computer scientists, medieval historians, and other humanities scholars to work side by side in a state of the art facility, said Jacobin. "This will expand the range of problems addressed by systems biology," he said, "which, as everyone knows, has failed to progress because of its hidebound traditions, myopic vision, and obsession with empirical data."

Said Yale president C. Richard Levine: "I had no idea Derrida had this kind of money, but we're happy to take it." He declined further comment.

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