There are two special features in this month's issue of Science about careers in systems biology. One is "Working the Systems" by Jim Kling and the other "A Meeting of Minds, Expertise, and Imagination" by Anne Forde.
Both articles say that the burgeoning field of systems biology is so new and unique that people haven't been able to really get their heads around it. Although the definition of the field is pretty vague, people who have excelled in it seem to have diverse talents. The movement in this field is integrating different experiments and computational approaches to really push the boundaries of traditional science. This is tough to do, however, because breaking the paradigms of traditional science is hard to accomplish. The former article cites the importance of building teams in systems biology, a practice that is hard to push in academia.
As far as job opportunities go, both articles say that in academics, the mood is optimistic and there is funding available for new groups and group leaders in this area. However, in industry the current situation isn't as good, as many drug companies focus biotech funding on later stages of the drug development pipeline and are waiting to see the real benefit of these approaches before investing in them too heavily.
All in all a couple of short, interesting letters that reinforce what most of us readers think about bioinformatics and systems biology: they are young and promising but really have a lot to prove in the future.
Hopefully, some of these issues will be addressed at the International symposium on systems biology and medicine coming up in April. We invite registrants from that conference to post their reports!
tt: Systems Biology, Biotech
Pubmed - Forde; Pubmed-Kling