Today through Friday (May 14 – 16), the New York Academy of Sciences is hosting a conference on Integrative Physiology. In our time, this is a revolutionary concept because scientific/medical researchers and western medical practitioners in the past century have become habituated to zeroing in on individual organs, tissues, cells and molecules. In turn, however, the results of the research pointed to multiple unknown functions of individual genes. The presenters at this conference are researchers on the forefront of beginning to understand these multiple roles. The keynote speaker, Leonard Guarente of MIT, discussed sirtuins and their roles in the biology of aging in various normal and diseased tissues.
It seems to me that just as we have ups and downs in life, there is a pattern of oscillation to ideas and theories. In the past century, biological research had focused consistently down toward the most primary molecular level, which can be visualized as a “contracting” of concentration, and it is now expanding to connect multiple molecular, cellular, and organ functions.