The Department of Biomedicine

BBB seminar: Jan van der Greef

Systems biology - a new approach to understanding disease and treatment

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Jan van der Greef
TNO Pharma, Zeist, and Leiden/Amsterdam Center for Drug Research, Leiden University, The Netherlands

The advent of the "-omics revolution" has forced us to reevaluate our ability to acquire, measure, and handle large data sets. Omic platforms such as expression arrays and mass spectrometry, with their exquisite selectivity, sensitivity, and specificity, are unrivaled technologies for detection, quantitation, and identification of DNA, messenger RNA, proteins, and metabolites derived from complex body tissue and fluids. More recently, attempts have been made to capture the utility of these platform technologies and combine them under the umbrella of systems biology, also referred to as pathway, network, or integrative biology. Applied systems biology is the integrated analysis of genetic, genomic, protein, metabolite, cellular, and pathway events that are in flux and interdependent. It necessitates the use of a variety of analytic platforms as well as biostatistics, bioinformatics, data integration, computational biology, modeling, and knowledge assembly protocols. Such sophisticated analyses may provide new insight into the understanding of disease processes and mechanisms of action of pharmaceutical agents. Ultimately, this requires a perspective on how complex systems behave and are modulated. In this regard, systems biology, more appropriately considered as a process containing a series of modules, aims to provide tools and capabilities to carry out such tasks. The essentials required to carry out systems biology experiments, the method in which integrated data in the form of a systems biology correlation network affords new insight into understanding disease, and the vista of developing more efficient biomarkers and therapeutic agents will be discussed.

Selected references:

Morel NM, Holland JM, van der Greef J, Marple EW, Clish C, Loscalzo J, Naylor S. Primer on medical genomics. Part XIV: Introduction to systems biology--a new approach to understanding disease and treatment. Mayo Clin Proc. 2004 May;79(5):651-8. Review.

Verhoeckx KC, Bijlsma S, Jespersen S, Ramaker R, Verheij ER, Witkamp RF, Van Der Greef J, Rodenburg RJ. Characterization of anti-inflammatory compounds using transcriptomics, proteomics, and metabolomics in combination with multivariate data analysis. Int Immunopharmacol. 2004 Nov;4(12):1499-514.

Host: Rune J. Ulvik, Institute of Medicine and Laboratory of Clinical Biochemistry, Haukeland University Hospital

Jan van der Greef is Professor of Analytical Biosciences at Leiden University within the Leiden/Amsterdam Center for Drug Research (LACDR; http://www.pharm.leidenuniv.nl). Further, he is Scientific Director of Systems Biology Research at TNO, Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research. The emphasis of TNO Pharma (http://www.pharma.tno.nl) is on novel instrumental developments in synergy with biological/biomedical expertise. Jan van der Greef is also co-founder of Beyond Genomics Inc, the first Systems Biology company (http://www.beyondgenomics.com), one of the initiators of the Center for Medical Systems Biology (CMSB; http://www.cmsb.nl), a genomics center of excellence supported by the Netherlands Genomics Initiative, and co-founder of Kiadis (http://www.kiadis.nl), a drug discovery company focusing on high resolution screening platforms for natural products and orphan targets.

Jan van der Greef has published over 250 papers in international journals and supervised more than 22 PhD thesis projects. He received an award for major contributions in drug analysis by the Belgium Society of Pharmaceutical Sciences in 1998, became honorary doctor at Ghent University in 2000 and received the AAPS Pharmaceutical Scientist award as one of the authors of the best analytical paper in 2002. His current research interest includes the development of systems biology with novel proteomics technologies, metabolomics fingerprinting and biostatistics, applied to the characterization of complex biological systems. He is considered a pioneer in the field of liquid chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry (LCMS), bodyfluid profiling and pattern recognition, and among the first to develop single cell profiling by mass spectrometry.