We employ sophisticated mathematical algorithms on big data collected on human populations to build predictive models of disease, and from these models, understand how best to diagnose and treat disease. We gather a vast amount of multidimensional data on multiple levels of a biological system (e.g., DNA, RNA, proteins, metabolites, cell, tissue, organs, individuals, community, environmental) to reveal connections and interrelationships that weren't possible to recognize before.
DNA is just one dimension of a living system and it is fairly static, in that it is fixed at conception. While it is a very important dimension, analyzing DNA alone is not sufficient for achieving an understanding of the complexity of living systems and in particular, complex phenotypes in human systems.
Our predictive models are designed to elucidate the complexity of human disease and drug response for individual patients. We seek to discover hidden patterns reflecting causal relationships between genes, your environment, and disease, test new theories relating to these relationships, and ultimately ensure that patients receive the most genetically and environmentally compatible treatments delivered at the right time.
Multiscale biology is a field of study that seeks to look at living systems (such as humans) more holistically, taking all dimensions of data into account to advance our understanding of how we function, and in particular, how genetic changes and changes in our environment can lead to the most pressing common human diseases of our day (diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer's, cancer, etc.)
Our specialty at the Icahn Institute for Genomics and Multiscale Biology is integrating many different dimensions of data together to paint a more accurate picture of all of the molecular states at play in a given person and how variations in these states lead to phenotypic changes related to disease or other traits of interest.
The Multiscale Approach Reveals Profound Insights
- Human health is the product of many interacting deeply complex systems:
- A person's physiology, genome, physical environment, bacteria and viruses in that environment, activities, social interactions, and medical care
- Those who will prevail in understanding these systems will obtain the best data, perform powerful analyses, and see patterns where others see only noise
- A multiscale approach - the application of advanced quantitative methods to massive and varied biological datasets - will reveal profound insights to human health and disease
As the name implies, "Big Data" refers to the vast amounts of data now available thanks to technological advances. This data is often unstructured - such as data contained in medical records - and it's simply too large for one person or one computer to process at a time. For instance, one human genome has the equivalent amount of data as a 1 terabyte hard drive, which is larger than 500 film DVDs or what most PCs currently have. Through strategy and sheer computing power, we are now able to harness its power to deliver scientific insights.