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Lee Hood Writing Systems Biology Textbook for Undergraduates

This article has been updated from a previous version, which mistakenly reported that the book would be published by the end of the month. The book's scheduled publication date is Sept. 30, 2006.


NEW YORK, Sept. 23 (GenomeWeb News) - Lee Hood, president of the Institute for Systems Biology, is writing a textbook about systems biology for undergraduate students, he said at a conference earlier this month.


"Systems biology should start [at the undergraduate level] and there's nothing out there that even remotely covered the field," Hood told GenomeWeb News following his keynote address at the 12th European Congress on Biotechnology, held at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, earlier this month.


The aim of the textbook, which is expected to be available in September 2006, is to educate undergraduate students about "biology as an information science and the emergence of systems biology so they can think in ... conceptual terms and have the framework for ... learning about any kind of system."


Hood said he decided to write the book because the educational system in the United States isn't doing enough to "integrate" disparate scientific disciplines to help students understand the way they interact in an organism --- a common definition of systems biology.


"I think we do need to change the way we train" university students studying "fundamental sciences," Hood said. "Where education really fails [is] in fundamental sciences ... [because] there was an enormous concentration too early in their careers on details and not enough articulation on fundamental principles."


For example, he said he believes that students studying biology ought to pursue a dual major with, say, engineering, applied physics, or computer science. "I think the expectations in the US at the undergraduate level have been way too low," he said.


"We taught biology in the past too much as a scripted science ... and we're now in the position to teach it as a conceptual science," he added.


The book, "Biological Information and the Emergence of Systems Biology," by Roberts and Company Publishers, is co-authored with David Galas, Greg Dewey, John Wilson, and Ruth Veres.

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