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About SysBio

In the last years, technological developments in biology, computational sciences and nanotechnology have allowed the emergence of the new and rapidly evolving field of systems biology. Whereas classical reductionist methods address complex biological questions by breaking them down into individual components, systems biology proposes an alternative approach where the properties of networks of interacting proteins, nucleic acids and biochemical reactions are instead studied as a whole. Thus, systems biology has the potential to provide a more comprehensive understanding of complex biological systems, going beyond the sum of individual parts. This is especially relevant to Cancer, which is a complex disease that involves multiple molecular networks, and interacts massively with its microenvironment. Systems biology offers promising avenues to resolve challenging questions in cancer biology where reductionist methods still struggle to provide us with answers.

The Systems Biology in Cancer & Immunology Symposium (SysBio) is an initiative of IRIC’s students. The aim of SysBio is to provide a forum to improve communication between different disciplines and to help foster an interest in systems biology. The event involves 2 days of seminars given by high profile local and international researchers. The seminars are grouped into 5 different themes: Cancer Systems Biology, Cell Engineering Approaches to Cancer, Systems Biology in Clinical & Pharmaceutical Applications and Systems Immunology. A poster session is also scheduled to allow participants to present their work and exchange ideas with experts in the field. 1st year graduate students attending IRIC’s Systems Biology summer course will also be invited to attend the SysBio symposium as a complement to their regular summer course.

The SysBio committee would like to thank our sponsor, VWR as well as the CIHR for providing funding for this event, and IRIC for hosting the SysBio meeting. We also thank Dr. Driss Rochdi for the design of the SysBio banner and Jean-Philippe Laverdure for help with the website registration system.

About IRIC

The Institute for Research in Immunology and Cancer
Dedicated to immunology and cancer research, IRIC is led by an outstanding group of scientists from Canada, Europe and the United States and engages in ambitious cross-disciplinary collaborations to tackle some of the most important obstacles to human health.

IRIC opened its doors in spring 2005 and it is expected to double in size over the coming years, bringing together some 40 research teams—for a total of some 500 scientists, postdoctoral trainees, graduate students and professionals—by the end of the decade.

The Institute for Research in Immunology and Cancer

The landscape of life sciences has changed dramatically in recent years as a result of spectacular growth in knowledge and technology. Our ability to sequence the human genome revolutionized biology. Since then, new disciplines such as genomics and proteomics have emerged along with highly sophisticated technologies, and basic research has evolved away from the traditional study of individual genes, one at a time, towards a systems biology approach.

This new kind of science allows investigators to shed light on the workings of cells and proteins as part of the greater organism they belong to, rather than on isolated components. It has opened the way for pursuing research initiatives more ambitious in scope and complexity, and more promising than ever before in terms of delivering effective diagnostics and therapies.

Yet harnessing this extraordinary new potential hinges upon the successful integration of talent, tools and knowledge from several different disciplines. Individual research teams, institutions and even entire countries are grappling with the significant shift required to bring together experts who want to tackle complex problems beyond the scope of a single laboratory and provide them with the right tools and facilities to optimize their work.

This is the pressing challenge the Université de Montréal seeks to respond to with its strategy for the alignment of resources, enabling technologies and knowledge to fuel investigator-initiated scientific discovery. Determined to offer the best research environment possible to support the work of an elite team of investigators, the University sought the counsel of some of the most respected health research leaders in the international community. This consultation proved invaluable in helping the University refine its vision for its Institute for Research in Immunology and Cancer (IRIC) which it founded in April 2002.

Over the next three years, IRIC’s founding investigators were successful in rallying extraordinary support for a fully integrated systems biology research and training centre focused on immunology and cancer. They also secured the funding required to turn this vision into a reality. In 2005, IRIC opened its doors in the Marcelle-Coutu Pavilion, a brand new building designed and outfitted to meet the specific requirements of cross-disciplinary research.

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