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Broad Institute/Dana-Farber Integrative Cancer Biology Program

Cancer biology is in the midst of major transition — from a primary focus on isolated components (e.g., oncogenes) to an integrated focus on systems (e.g., pathways). This transition has become feasible only recently, following two decades of intensive work on the molecular biology of cancer (leading to the identification of many oncogenes) and on the human genome (providing the ability to take comprehensive global views of biological systems).

A "systems biology" approach is clearly essential to the understanding and treatment of cancer. We need an integrated view expressed in terms of pathways — consisting of comprehensive knowledge of those pathways that are active and those that are essential in each cancer. Such a systems-level understanding of cancer will have major implications for (i) understanding the development and progression of cancer and (ii) creating therapeutic agents and combinations and matching them to patients.