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Systems biology came about as growing numbers of engineers and scientists from other fields created algorithms which supported the analysis of biological data in incredible quantities. Whereas biologists of the past had been forced to study one item or aspect at a time, due to technical and biological limitations, it suddenly became possible to study biological phenomena within their natural contexts. This interdisciplinary field offers a holistic approach to interpreting these processes, and has been responsible for some of the most important developments in the science of human health and environmental sustainability. This Very Short Introduction outlines the exciting processes and possibilities in the new field of systems biology. Eberhard O. Voit describes how it enabled us to learn how intricately the expression of every gene is controlled, how signaling systems keep organisms running smoothly, and how complicated even the simplest cells are. He explores what this field is about, why it is needed, and how it will affect our understanding of life, particularly in the areas of personalized medicine, drug development, food and energy production, and sustainable stewardship of our environments.Show more