Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


Our era has been described as the 'Century of Biology'. The life sciences are undergoing a profound transformation, triggered by the recombinant DNA revolution and amplified by advances in high throughput analytic techniques such as genomics and proteomics that are rapidly expanding our knowledge of living organisms. The transformation of the life sciences has brought unity to disciplines that were previously distinct. Molecular approaches have illuminated the multiple aspects of the dynamic organisation of living matter across widely different scales, from the molecule to the cell, from the organism to the biosphere. The diversity of life, probably numbering more than ten million species, is counterbalanced by the common descent of all species through evolution. This common descent is reflected in shared lineages of molecules, biochemical pathways, regulatory process and signals. The understanding of this shared heritage vastly accelerates the transfer of knowledge from diverse organisms such as microbes to humans.
The understanding of the common descent of organisms is being powered by major technological advances. In particular, genomics and modern RNA-based 'reverse' genetics have empowered biologists to study in depth not just simple systems such as viruses and microbes but virtually any organism, including humans. This has opened up new avenues of comparative biology which take the understanding of how different systems work and how processes of life and their variations have survived the evolutionary process to understand the living world and to design new cures and effective interventions. These advances have brought biology and medicine into a profound integration. This is the promise and excitement of translational research, whereby the understanding gained from and the tools developed in basic biology become the springboard for novel approaches to understand, preserve and repair the healthy functioning of the human body.

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