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As recently as the mid-1990s, dramatic advances in the life sciences due in large part to the re-emergence of "discovery science" and "systems biology" were largely unanticipated. These advances were fueled by high throughput genomics and the development of bioinformatics tools to mine the resultant data. Global gene transcriptome, proteome and metabonome analyses have added further momentum, creating a paradigm shift in life science research that requires unfamiliar integrative approaches.

These new integrative research strategies are rapidly superceding the traditional reductive approaches in life science investigation, and it is likely that current, purely reductive research will become noncompetitive in the face of these new integrative paradigms. Federal funding agencies such as the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Energy, and the National Science Foundation have signaled their recognition of this shift by stressing the importance of integrated, interdisciplinary research in their policy statements and requests for applications. Recent advances in genomic research have demonstrated the importance of this understanding and paradigm shift, as investigators abandon their efforts to "clone and characterize the gene for" their favorite protein, substituting, instead, in silico analyses and discovery science.

We believe that life science research is initiating a progression of development that begins with traditional reductive science and ends with the not yet completely defined science applying the principles of complexity.

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Date last modified: 5/30/07
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