Editor's Note: This post was updated to reflect more accurate information about the video posted below.
Researchers have made great strides in understanding biology by taking a reductionist approach and studying little bits of the "complex tapestry of life" at a time, says Scientific American's Christine Gorman. And until now, that's worked just fine, she says. But researchers increasingly find themselves butting up against the limits of this traditional approach, eventually realizing that they must embrace the complexity of life in order to really understand it, Gorman adds. Institute for Systems Biology co-founder Alan Aderem says a systems biology approach could allow researchers to produce vaccines that have been otherwise unachievable to date. In this video from Virginia Commonwealth University, researchers explain the systems biology approach and how it can be used to study disease.