Friday, April 28, 2006

CSBi-cal cancer

Tim Hughes gave a talk yesterday in which he made a comment about a "connection between CSBi and cancer". While he was probably referring to the fact that a couple of the most prominent faculty members that are part of CSBi work [in one fashion or another] on cancer, I couldn't help but think that his statement could also be interpreted as CSBi being a form of cancer slowly taking over MIT, as evidenced by the number of MIT faculty members "associated" with CSBi [where "associated" means "signed up on the CSBi website"].

I suppose it's a reflection of the fact that "systems biology" is the new hotness, despite the fact that nobody can define it [but presumably they know it when they see it...], and everybody wants to be associated with its incandescent light. Or something. In any case, it does make me wonder whether CSBi is becoming so diffuse that there's no point in thinking of it as a distinctive entity anymore. Not that that would necessarily be a bad thing -- as Tozier has pointed out, barriers between disciplines can be annoying. Presumably that'd be all the more the case if a new "discipline" whose guiding motto is "Throw all possible methods at the problem and see which ones stick" [the polite term for this is "interdisciplinary approach", I think] suddenly decided to get all exclusive and clubby in an "You're not interdisciplinary enough" sort of way.

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