Systems Biology: A Field of Unlimited Possibilities
Published: Nov 19, 2009
By Chris Lewis
Kelly Scientific Resources
During the past decade, the concept of systems biology has provoked interest within the scientific community. Rather than focusing solely on the individual components of biological systems, like typical biology has for hundreds of years, systems biology studies the interactions between all of the components of biological systems in order to establish the role that each individual component has in determining the purpose and behavior of the system. By focusing on the entire biological system through studying the connections between each individual biological component rather than observing one component at a time, science professionals may be able to discover previously unknown properties of biological systems.
Ever since the completed Human Genome Project was published in 2003 , scientists, especially biologists, have been able to better understand the genetic makeup of humans. Previously, scientists have mainly studied only individual components of the genetic makeup of humans, leading to an incomplete understanding of the human body, as well as a typical inability to prevent diseases before they occur. In the meantime, by studying only individual components of organisms, rather than the connections of components, scientists have not usually been able to adequately predict and prevent diseases before they occur. As scientists have learned that an organism’s biological components interact with each other, it has become clear that a systems biology approach to understanding an organism will be critical for the future prevention of diseases.
Today, systems biology is beginning to receive the recognition it deserves as a field that may truly change the scope of scientific practices forever. Not only will the field of systems biology help scientists around the world better understand the processes of biological systems, an understanding that may eventually lead to unknown disease cures and other medical breakthroughs, but the field will also create job opportunities for well-experienced scientists, who are pursuing new fields of interest for future careers, as well as recent graduates of master’s and doctorate programs looking to use their educations to improve the lives of others.
During the past few years, various doctoral training centers in systems biology have been created around the world due to a shortage in science professionals who are truly interested in pursuing the field of systems biology for their career paths. Even though more science professionals have entered the field of systems biology in recent times, there is still a shortage of science professionals that will be needed around the world to adequately understand biological systems processes and find more disease treatments and cures. Due to this shortage, systems biology will be an ideal field for science professionals of all levels to enter during the coming years.
Career Opportunities in Systems Biology
Due to the thorough understanding of biological function that is required in systems biology, biologists, chemists, and physicists will be able to find ample career opportunities in the field during the next few years. In the meantime, computer software engineers, computer scientists, and mathematicians will also be in high demand since systems biology requires data collection, processing, and modeling.
By developing and applying computational biology, biologists will be able to design, analyze, and interpret the ways in which systems biology can positively affect research organizations and the well-beings of patients. Computational biologists typically have a doctorate in computer sciences, mathematics, physics, or bioengineering.
Since chemists study the composition of matter, they will be at the forefront of the usage of systems biology as they study the connections of organisms’ individual components in order to hopefully discover new disease treatments and cures. Not only will well-experienced chemists find positions in the systems biology field, but recent graduates with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in chemistry will also have opportunities to leave their marks on the field.
As physicists continually study matter and analyze nature in order to understand the ways in which the world behaves, systems biology will provide physicists with a new outlook on the study of matter. By working with chemists and computational biologists, physicists will study the ways in which individual components of organisms interact with each other and how these interactions affect the behaviors of organisms.
• Computer software engineers
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, computer software engineering is projected to become one of the fastest growing careers in the country during the next decade. By applying principles of computer science and mathematics to the design and development of computer software and systems, computer software engineers are constantly in high demand in various career fields, including systems biology, which requires computer programs that will be able to store broad collections of biological data and experimental results.
• Computer scientists
With extensive experiences in data collection and processing, computer scientists can help biologists design systems biology experiments and determine results and interactions. Well-experienced computer scientists with proper educational backgrounds will be able to apply their skills and knowledge to help biologists, chemists, and physicists perform systems biology research that may lead to previously unknown scientific data.
Systems biology uses mathematical models and quantitative experiments that require the expertise of mathematicians around the country. During the coming years, mathematicians with various levels of experience and educational backgrounds will be pursued to help systems biology researchers perform experiments.
In the past, various “hot” scientific career paths, ranging from biotechnology to geology, have caught the attention of science professionals around the world, leading them to pursue new career opportunities and challenges. Systems biology is currently one of the leading “hot” career fields in science. However, while some former “hot” science fields have eventually been viewed as fads that did not deliver on their promises of exponential career growth, it seems that systems biology will not only lead science professionals to pursue new career interests, but may also eventually improve the well-beings of patients around the world. With unlimited promise as a field that may lead to new disease treatments and cures, systems biology will likely create bountiful opportunities for science professionals in the future.
The Promise of Systems Biology
Recently, researchers at the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute at Virginia Tech and the Wake Forest University School of Medicine have supported the idea of using a systems biology approach towards studying cancer, in order to develop new treatment options for patients who have been diagnosed with potentially life-threatening forms of cancer. In a recent article published in the Biochimica et Biophysica Acta, an international journal of biochemistry, biophysics, and molecular biology, the researchers believe that a systems biology approach will help science professionals better understand the complexity of cancer progressions as an evaluation of a cancer cell’s entire biochemical network will be needed before the differences between a cancer cell and a normal cell will be fully understood. By thoroughly understanding a cancer cell’s entire biochemical network, scientists will be able to create more effective cancer treatments. Along with other scientific means, such as stem cell research, a systems biology approach for scientific research may eventually lead to a cure for cancer, along with numerous other types of diseases.
Staffing a Field of Unlimited Possibilities
As one of the fastest growing industries in the world of science, systems biology will provide science professionals of various skill levels with opportunities to pursue several types of careers, ranging from mathematicians and computer scientists to chemists and physicists. In order to find career opportunities in the systems biology field, science professionals from around the country will look to the expertise of the world’s best staffing agencies. As a leader in staffing, Kelly Scientific Resources will be able to place science professionals into rewarding positions in the systems biology field.
“During the past 14 years, Kelly Scientific Resources has become a world leader in scientific staffing solutions,” said Rich Pennock, vice president of Kelly Services. “As a result, Kelly Scientific Resources will be able to help science professionals around the nation find careers in the field of systems biology, despite the status of the global economy.”
With its unlimited growth opportunities and potential for finding new treatments and cures to diseases, systems biology should provide a bright future for science professionals and patients well into the future.
Kelly Scientific Resources (KSR) is a highly specialized business unit of Kelly Services, Inc., a world leader in workforce management services and human resources solutions.
Since its launch in 1995, KSR has provided staffing and placement services to a broad spectrum of industries, including biotechnology, chemical, consumer products, cosmetics, environmental, food sciences, medical/clinical, pharmaceutical, and petrochemical.