“The human body: the ultimate frontier of complexity” is a touchbook that uses text, images, films and games to introduce you to the cutting-edge research being undertaken in some of the most advanced laboratories in the world in a friendly and entertaining way. In these laboratories, scientists are confronting the most challenging questions posed by living organisms using instruments and strategies provided by systems biology – an approach that, in Switzerland, has been fostered by SystemsX.ch. This national initiative was created and funded by the Swiss government to revolutionise biology research, and as a result to boost knowledge of the human body and the basic mechanisms of life.
In systems biology, complex systems, such as those made up of different molecules, cells or organs interacting within a network, are studied as a whole by integrating competences and tools typical of different fields such as biology, mathematics, physics and informatics. This research strategy is producing remarkable results, since it allows an understanding of the complexity of living systems – something that is not possible when only taking each of the system’s components into account separately. Indeed, the complexity of biological systems is so important, it cannot be overlooked, since it is the reason why different living organisms, and in our case different human beings, react differently to the same environmental factors, or the same medical treatments, or to illnesses such as cancer. For thousands of years, the human body has been an endless source of questions. Generations of scientists have devoted their lives to finding answers to these questions, leading to spectacular breakthroughs in our knowledge, and consequently in human health. Still, with each answer new questions arise, and the human body has now become the ultimate and most ambitious frontier for scientific exploration.
Like in any other kind of exploration, revolutionary tools and innovative strategies are needed to reach new horizons.
This is the story of a great intellectual adventure, an intrepid Swiss initiative, and a surprising journey through the human body.