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University of Oxford Innovative Systems Biology Project Sponsored by Tsumura

Noble group

The primary aim of the research project is to investigate the mechanism of multiple actions of one of Japan's traditional multi-component medications, by applying the methodologies of Innovative Systems Biology. This is a novel approach using Systems Biology to selected insights from traditional medicine. This novel approach is being used in this context for the first time in the world. The methodologies are all based on systematic interaction between experimental work (in vitro) and mathematical computational work (in silico). 

This multi-disciplinary Research Project is mainly conducted in the Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics (DPAG), a large  department within the Medical Sciences Division of the University of Oxford (ranked number one in the world for biomedicine) as well as in the Department of Pharmacology and in the Department of Computer Science.

The Co-Principal Investigators of this Project are Prof. Denis Noble and Dr. Richard Boyd (both DPAG). They were co-editors of The Logic of Life (1993): 生理学 (literally, the study of logic of life), and Prof. Denis Noble is the author of The Music of Life (2006). These two books are important for the development of this Project. Other Investigators and Researchers on this Project, all at Oxford University, include Prof. Anant Parekh (DPAG), Prof. Derek Terrar (Department of Pharmacology), Prof. David Gavaghan (Department of Computer Science), Diego Zancani (Himanities), Dr. Gary Mirams (Department of Computer Science), Penny Noble (DPAG), Kazuyo Maria Tasaki (DPAG), and Toshiaki William Tasaki (DPAG).

The original inspiration for the concept of "Innovative Systems Biology" for this Project can be traced back to 2009, when Prof. Denis Noble highlighted the significance of the Ishimpo 医心方, a medieval medical text (dedicated to the Emperor in 984 and designated as a National Treasure in Japan in 1984) in his role as IUPS President at the IUPS international Congress in Kyoto, in the presence of HIH The Crown Prince of Japan. That event inspired Kazuyo Maria Tasaki to originate the new concept by bringing a novel approach to Systems Biology and Traditional Medicine. That was followed by a visit to the Imperial Palace Library to view the manuscripts of the Ishimpo in January 2012.

We thank TSUMURA & CO., for being sponsor of this Project (2013-2018), as well as donating a copy of the Ansei woodblock version of the Ishimpo, together with a set of its translation into modern Japanese, to the University of Oxford Bodleian Japanese Library in February 2013.

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