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Editorial Guides:
Omic Empiricism
David B. Searls (28 April 2009)
Sci. Signal. 2 (68), eg6-eg6. [DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.268eg6]
Abstract »   Full Text »  PDF » 
Posted E-Letters:
  • Paradigm Shift
    John S. Torday, Virender K. Rehan (11 May 2009)

Paradigm Shift

We enjoyed reading David Searls's essay "Omic Empiricism." As working scientists, we are constantly faced with the dilemma of when to use omics and when to go with more specific and sensitive methods. Our own bias is that we are using the wrong paradigm (an applications problem), when applying genomic data to biologic problems. This is particularly true when using data that do not take into account the cellular context—the cell is the smallest functional unit of biology, and, like the atom, it is the measure of all things. If we are to meet the challenge of omics, we must expand our purview beyond descriptive phenotypes in biology and medicine. We have previously suggested that by viewing data in a functional genomic, cell-molecular, evolutionary-developmental context, that the causal interrelationships between development, homeostasis, regeneration and disease become readily apparent and testable (13). So with all due respect to Dr. Searls, the problem is not one of philosophy but of how to effectively implement the biologic information to convert genes into phenotypes.


  1. J. S. Torday, V. K. Rehan, Lung evolution as a cipher for physiology. Physiol. Genomics. 10.1152/physiolgenomics.90411.2008 (2009 April 14 Epub ahead of print). [Abstract (PubMed)]
  2. J. S. Torday, V. K. Rehan, The evolutionary continuum from lung development to homeostasis and repair. Am. J. Physiol. Lung Cell. Mol. Physiol. 292, L608L611 (2007). [Abstract (Virtual Journal)] [Full Text (Virtual Journal)]
  3. J. S. Torday, V. K. Rehan, Exploiting cellular-developmental evolution as the scientific basis for preventive medicine. Med. Hypotheses. 72, 596602 (2009). [Abstract (PubMed)]

Contributed by

John S. Torday, MSc, Ph.D.
Professor, Department of Pediatrics and Obstetrics and Gynecology
Director, The Henry L. Guenther Laboratory for Cell/Molecular Research
Director, Laboratory for Evolutionary Preventive Medicine
Harbor-UCLA Medical Center
Phone: (310) 222-8186, fax: (310) 222-3887

Virender K. Rehan, MD
Associate Professor, Department of Pediatrics
Chief, Division of Neonatology
Harbor-UCLA Medical Center
Phone: (310) 222-1965, fax: (310) 222-3887

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