The Institute for Systems Biology, or ISB, is a research facility focused on the concept of systems biology. This concept is based on the study of an organism by analyzing the interactions between all the systems in the organism. The relations between these different parts are critically important to the structure and function of the organism. The interaction between all these parts can often be modeled into a network, which can then be studied.
ISB was founded by Dr. Leroy Hood, an immunologist and technologist, Dr. Alan Aderem, an immunologist, and Dr. Ruedi Aebersold, a protein chemist. Located in Fremont on the north side of Lake Union, the facility has a view of downtown Seattle, the Aurora Bridge and Queen Anne. Acknowledging the importance of studying all aspects of a biological phenomenon, the institute employs over 300 staff members with extremely diverse and cross-disciplinary skills and experience. If someone needs the answer to a question, they can seek the advice of a biologist, a chemist, a mathematician, an engineer, an immunologist, a geneticist, and even an astronomer.
The concept of systems biology was born after the completion of Human Genome Project, which essentially laid the groundwork for explaining the connections between genes, proteins, and the rest of the central dogma of life. Many technologies have been created to aid in the study of systems biology. Traditional biology, like that taught in high school and college, singles out specific genes and proteins to study and looks at those without relating them to other processes in the organism, while a systems biologist might study a specific gene but looks at that gene’s effect on the entire organism.