A systems approach to infectious disease

Manon Eckhardt, Judd F. Hultquist*, Robyn M. Kaake, Ruth Hüttenhain, Nevan J. Krogan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

66 Scopus citations


Ongoing social, political and ecological changes in the 21st century have placed more people at risk of life-threatening acute and chronic infections than ever before. The development of new diagnostic, prophylactic, therapeutic and curative strategies is critical to address this burden but is predicated on a detailed understanding of the immensely complex relationship between pathogens and their hosts. Traditional, reductionist approaches to investigate this dynamic often lack the scale and/or scope to faithfully model the dual and co-dependent nature of this relationship, limiting the success of translational efforts. With recent advances in large-scale, quantitative omics methods as well as in integrative analytical strategies, systems biology approaches for the study of infectious disease are quickly forming a new paradigm for how we understand and model host–pathogen relationships for translational applications. Here, we delineate a framework for a systems biology approach to infectious disease in three parts: discovery — the design, collection and analysis of omics data; representation — the iterative modelling, integration and visualization of complex data sets; and application — the interpretation and hypothesis-based inquiry towards translational outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)339-354
Number of pages16
JournalNature Reviews Genetics
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics(clinical)
  • Genetics
  • Molecular Biology


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