Systems Biology According to a High Schooler

The government sponsored lots of scientists to copy down the entire DNA sequences of a couple of humans. A daunting task considering that, so far, most people would take several years to research one protein, or one gene. Yeast had been fully sequenced in 1996, but the Human DNA was a much larger unknown variable and a lot more daunting. Suddenly, some frustrated scientists realize that this could be their entire career! They decide to open up a new lab and through grants they buy bought technology to speed up the sequencing process! The government bought new technology for the other researches! The project is going fast!

Those researchers further mechanized the process so that they could cover more areas faster. In order to create that technology, people from many different (science) fields had to collaborate with each other to make that technology available. They had to collaborate with the industrial world. Sharing the decoded parts of the genome between labs (internationally) also sped up the project.

Applying Systems Biology as your research philosophy, you look at everything instead of focusing on one part, and instead of testing for one thing you test for everything. Say you're in proteomics and looking at a yeast cell. You don't just search for one protein in yeast, you search for as many proteins yeast uses as you can and search for which proteins are more abundant and what environments cause which proteins to pop up and the effects of proteins on the cell, and so forth. You're studying the system – the whole and the interactions of the whole – because you gain more data in bulk and more insight on that one protein's characteristics than studying that protein by itself would anyway.

That is the Systems Biology approach. A lot of that stuff might seem taken for granted, but it really wasn't that wide spread just a decade ago, and it still isn't to some extent.