With our relatively newfound ability to perform large-scale surveys of the genomic and proteomic landscape, the principal challenge has shifted away from measurement towards interpretation of the data. Our group has been developing and using analytical approaches rooted in information theory and formal dynamic systems theory to infer biological structure and function in these large data sets. In particular, we have been using this approach to decipher the principles of operation of the immune system by mapping its internal communication network, as well as, its participation in neuro-endocrine signaling.
Our eventual goal is not only to tap into pathogenic immune conversations; but, also, more importantly, to re-direct these conversations with a limited number of well-chosen and well-timed pharmaceutical messages. This research is founded on the premise that for immune therapies to be both safe and effective, the immune system must be considered as an integrated whole.
Current research efforts at the CSB lab are focused on understanding immune dysfunction and neuroinflammation from an integrated systems perspective. In particular, our group is investigating how subtle imbalances in the interplay between the immune system’s multiple components as well as its interactions with the endocrine and nervous systems may lead to complex disorders such as myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS), Gulf War Illness (GWI), and other neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's Disease and Parkinson's Disease. Illnesses such as these continue to defy a conventional one-piece-at-a-time approach. As none of the body’s systems function in isolation, we believe that new insight can be achieved by considering the immune, endocrine and nervous systems as part of an overarching and integrated whole. This comprehensive approach is at the very heart of systems biology: an emerging science where context and interaction are key focal points.