The Bertalanffy Center for the Study of Systems Science heartly welcomes Dr. Jörg Menche on Friday, April 24th 2015 at 2pm, Paulanergasse 13/5, 1040 Vienna, Austria, with his contribution “Diseases in the human interactome” to the BCSSS Lecture Series on Systems Science and Medicine.

Jörg Menche

Dr. Menche is a postdoctoral fellow with Prof. Albert-László Barabási at the Technical University of Budapest. From 2010 to 2012 he was an affiliated member of the Center for Cancer Systems Biology, Dana Farber Cancer Institute, at the Harvard Medical School, Boston, USA and a postdoctoral fellow with Prof. Albert-László Barabási at the Center for Complex Network Research at the Northeastern University, Boston, USA. He received his PhD in theoretical physics at the Max-Planck-Institute of Colloids and Interfaces (MPIKG) and the University of Potsdam, Germany (grade “Summa Cum Laude”).

Diseases in the human interactome

Recent advances in disease gene identification and high-throughput mapping of physical interactions between gene products offer new opportunities to explore the role of molecular networks in human disease.

In this Network medicine lecture Dr. Menche discusses recent findings on protein-protein interaction networks and disease relationships. He will show that proteins associated with the same disease display a statistically significant tendency to agglomerate in the same neighbourhood of the interactome, offering quantitative evidence for the existence of well-localized and potentially identifiable disease modules.

Most important, his research team1 found that the network-based location of each disease module determines its pathobiological relationship to other diseases. For example, disease pairs with overlapping modules show significant co-expression patterns, symptom similarity, and comorbidity; those that reside in separated network neighborhoods are pathobiologically and clinically distinct. The proposed interactome-based framework offers systematic avenues to discover common molecular roots between clinically unrelated disease phenotypes even if they do not share disease genes, and helps identify the biological role of  GWAS (genome-wide association study) genes of small effect size and low genome-wide significance.

1 Jörg Menche, Amitabh Sharma, Maksim Kitsak, Susan Dina Ghiassian, Marc Vidal, Joseph Loscalzo & Albert-László Barabási from the Center for Complex Networks Research and Department of Physics, Northeastern University, Boston, USA; Center for Cancer Systems Biology (CCSB) and Department of Cancer Biology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, USA; Center for Network Science, Central European University, Budapest, Hungary; Department of Genetics, Harvard Medical School, Boston, USA; and the Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, USA.

Systems Medicine and Healthcare Systems at the Bertalanffy Center for the Study of Systems Science

Systems science applications in medicine are known since the 1950s when Ludwig von Bertalanffy was elaborating his general theory of living systems. At present, by new technological and formal methods in modern biology and medicine this perspective gets new support.

The emerging field of Systems Medicine aims at a systemic understanding of health and disease on the basis of complex molecular data sets that are obtained by high-throughput technologies and that are analyzed by mathematical tools of complexity research. These new approaches promise better diagnosis, treatments, predictions and preventions of diseases by personalized data and participation of the patient.

But not only systems thinking in medicine, also systems thinking of medicine is important: Beyond economic approaches the methodologies of systems analysis and systems design are useful tools for the structural and functional analysis as well as the transformation of health care systems.

In order to stimulate this development of interdisciplinary discussion between medicine, systems biology, informatics and systems science several lectures are organized by the BCSSS, chaired by BCSSS Fellow Prof. Dr.Dr.Dr. Felix Tretter, in spring / summer 2015 at the Bertalanffy Center for the Study of Systems Science, Paulanergasse 13/5, 1040 Vienna, Austria.

Further lectures are planned for May and June 2015. Together with Prof. Tretter the Bertalanffy Center intends to establish a Research Group to investigate these future potentials. These open meetings mark unique opportunities for researchers and students from a variety of disciplines and representatives from industry, and from the private and governmental health care and insurance system to connect with us.

If you are interested to join, please, send a message to