Contemporary views of human disease are based on simple correlation between clinical syndromes and pathological analysis dating from the late 19th century. Although this approach to disease diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment has served the medical establishment and society well for many years, it has serious shortcomings for the modern era of the genomic medicine that stem from its reliance on reductionist principles of experimentation and analysis. Quantitative, holistic systems biology applied to human disease offers a unique approach for diagnosing established disease, defining disease predilection, and developing individualized (personalized) treatment strategies that can take full advantage of modern molecular pathobiology and the comprehensive data sets that are rapidly becoming available for populations and individuals. In this way, systems pathobiology offers the promise of redefining our approach to disease and the field of medicine. WIREs Syst Biol Med 2011 3 619–627 DOI: 10.1002/wsbm.144
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