The research of the Department of vertebrate genomics focuses on the prediction of the behavior of complex biological systems, through an application and combination of technologies in genetics, genomics, bioinformatics and systems biology, with the particular focus on system medicine
The core research therefore focusses on three main areas: (I) technology development, providing the basis for systematic analyses of biology and medicine on a genome wide level (II) the analysis of regulatory processes in man and mouse, defining the biological networks disturbed in diseases and (III) the application of this approach to medical problems: systems medicine, with the major focus on oncology.
Life is, in a sense, a computational process, computing the (healthy or sick) human from its genome/epigenome and its environment. Diseases can be considered as disturbances in the network of molecular, cellular and tissue interactions which determine, if an individual develops normally, is healthy or sick, has age related diseases, or is ageing without suffering the consequences of age related diseases. These networks are exceedingly complex. Each cell determines its biology by the interaction of the 6 billion bases of its (diploid genome) genome with its environment, which can include drugs used medically to cure a disease, or ameliorate its symptoms, or present due to an unplanned exposure to environmental conditions. Though we have empirically found many ways to improve our life, to cure or ameliorate diseases and to extend our life span, there are still enormous problems, for which we have, at the moment, no adequate answers. In spite of expenditures estimated of about 200 billion dollars for cancer research over the last few decades, the cure rates of most common forms of cancer have hardly improved. For many other diseases we have made progress in ameliorating some of the symptoms, but are still unable to achieve a real cure.