Scientific American has posted a Nature video in which Nobel laureate Tim Hunt, a systems biology skeptic, discusses the merits of the field with a systems biologist and an undergraduate student as part of this year's Nobel Laureate Meeting in Lindau, Germany. Hunt tells IRB Barecelona's Roland Pache and MIT's Sophia Hsing-Jung Li that he regards himself as a systems biologist, in that he's studied biological systems like mitosis. "I consider what I do to be real systems biology. Most of the things that systems biologists say that they've been doing has not been very useful in explaining the kinds of questions that people have," Hunt says. "Sometimes they do very, very genius experiments ... but actually they just tend to show that Jacob and Monod got it right in 1969." Both Pache and Hunt agree that both disciplines are best served when scientists from the two work together. According to Pache, Hunt's "main skepticism is 'Look, you have all this data but you don't know what are the functional consequences of what you see.' And I think that's the great thing of combining ... the two," he says. Hunt's advice for "practicing systems biologists is to spend plenty of time talking to real biologists," he says, adding that it's difficult to map interactions among systems "when you don't even know what the players are."
Systems Biology Meets 'Real' Biology
Sep 17, 2010