The intersection of -omics

One could argue that the art of Science is choosing which lens to view your subject with. For certain diseases you could apply a variety of -omics, (genomics, proteomics, metabolomics, etc.) to explore the mechanisms behind the pathology of your disease. Each -omic, each lens, will offer the investigator different insights into the same larger truth.

The problem is that people become deeply invested into their own particular lenses, and therefore they only see one angle of the deeper reality. Therefore, a geneticist may only consider a mutation as the only important finding in the same tumor sample that a metabolomics expert may be keenly interested in because he believes he can pinpoint how cancer cells use local lipid stores to fuel their progression. Both of these points of view provide insight into a larger truth- how the tumor grows in vivo, at the intersection and ultimate culmination of every -omic occurring simultaneously.

What is the answer to this problem? Undoubtedly collaboration is important. Bringing together experts from each of the -omics to provide a cohesive picture is not only helpful for contextualizing each others’ research, but imperative in establishing a framework with which to target interventions within.

But I like to think of a scientist as the person behind the microscope, able to flit between one lens and the next with practice and ease. To me, if you want to be able to attack a pathology with the keen scientific insight required to tackle Modern Science’s most difficult questions, you have to have a macro multi-faceted view of your subject.  It is not enough to know just one angle. A scientist must strive for the larger truth behind the sliver they normally see. That truth? It lies at the intersection of the -omics.

 

 

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