Category: Sample Data-Articles
Published Date Written by Felix Grun


Dean’s Distinguished Lecture


Arthur D. Lander, M.D., Ph.D.

Donald Bren Professor of Developmental and Cell Biology
Director of the Center for Complex Biological Systems
University of California, Irvine

“Purpose, Complexity, and Failure in the Living World” 

Thursday, February 4, 2016 at 4:00 p.m.
Crystal Cove Auditorium, UC Irvine Student Center

Abstract: When biologists talk about the living world, they can’t help describing it in terms of purposes and goals: The function of the heart is to pump blood; the goal of the flower is to attract the bee; the purpose of the white blood cell is to attack invaders, and so on. Such talk has long embarrassed those who believe that a rigorous science of biology must reduce everything to physics and chemistry—fields in which there are no purposes and goals, only causes and effects. Although many have sought to transform biology into a similar cause-and-effect science, a new discipline, Systems Biology, takes the opposite approach. Drawing inspiration from engineering, Systems Biology takes goals to be primary, and attempts to explain life’s myriad mechanisms as sophisticated strategies for achieving them. Exploiting engineering principles, mixed with a healthy dose of mathematics, statistics, and “big data” computer science, this approach has proved remarkably successful in explaining both the complexity of biology—why, for example, our genes interact with each other in dauntingly complicated ways that often defy our best attempts to decipher—and the robustness of biology—why biology is so reliable, despite the unpredictable nature of the world in which we develop, grow and function. It has also shown us how failure can be an unavoidable consequence of robustness, shedding light on the origins of common afflictions such as birth defects, mental illness and cancer.
The lecture is open to the public and campus community.
Reservations required by Friday, January 29th.

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