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Systems Biology Meets 'Real' Biology

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."

The Scan

Billions for Antivirals

The US is putting $3.2 billion toward a program to develop antivirals to treat COVID-19 in its early stages, the Wall Street Journal reports.

NFT of the Web

Tim Berners-Lee, who developed the World Wide Web, is auctioning its original source code as a non-fungible token, Reuters reports.

23andMe on the Nasdaq

23andMe's shares rose more than 20 percent following its merger with a special purpose acquisition company, as GenomeWeb has reported.

Science Papers Present GWAS of Brain Structure, System for Controlled Gene Transfer

In Science this week: genome-wide association study ties variants to white matter stricture in the brain, and more.