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Center for the Study of Systems Biology

Location :Georgia Tech, Atlanta, Georgia, USA.

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With the completion of the sequencing of the human genome, the possibility exists to unlock the secrets of life and with such understanding, powerful new approaches to the treatment of disease will emerge. However, much like being given a parts list of a car without an instruction manual, the sequence of the human genome provides a list of about 25,000 proteins (the molecular machines of life), the functions of more than half of which are unknown. Moreover, analyzing the individual parts tells one very little about their synergistic interactions. Systems Biology seeks to understand how the components of complex living systems interact and give rise to life and how their malfunction causes disease. Since many diseases are caused by the malfunctioning of proteins, key questions are to identify which proteins are responsible for which disease and then to design drugs to treat it. To date, only about 500 of the 25,000 proteins in the human genome have been the targets of drugs, and it has been estimated that there are another 2000-2500 additional proteins in the human genome that are appropriate drug targets. Over the next decade, methods will be developed to identify many of these protein targets and new approaches that speed up the drug discovery process (which at present takes 8-10 years) will emerge. The newly formed Center for the Study of Systems Biology, CSSB directed by Jeffrey Skolnick, is poised to be a central player in this emerging revolution in biology.