The Initiative in Systems Pharmacology (ISP) represents a multifaceted attempt to measure the precise effects of drugs on integrated biological pathways and networks, characterize the dynamic responses of tissues and organisms to drug exposure and understand the processes responsible for therapeutic and adverse outcomes. Experimental data in systems pharmacology are analyzed using computational and mathematical approaches derived from the physical sciences and engineering but adapted to the specific needs of pharmacology. By capturing precise molecular understanding of complex networks, these mathematical models provide novel insight to the operation of existing drugs and the development of new ones.
The Harvard ISP operates as an interdepartmental program involving faculty across Harvard Medical School and its affiliated hospitals. This organization makes it possible to advance interdisciplinary and interdepartmental research in a rapidly moving field, while leveraging the capabilities of existing departments and core facilities. Faculty in ISP hold primary appointments in regular academic departments but participate actively in ISP teaching and research activities. In this sense, ISP is orthogonal but complementary to a conventional academic structure. ISP is an early component in the developing HMS Program in Translational Science and Therapeutics, a broad effort to understand the causes of disease and their heterogeneity of expression, and to develop both molecular tools and potential drugs for their study and eventual treatment.
More about Systems Pharmacology
Peter Sorger, Co-chair of ISP, played a leading role in the preparation of a white paper for the National Institutes of Health on the discipline of “quantitative and systems pharmacology.” This document, Quantitative and Systems Pharmacology in the Post-genomic Era: New Approaches to Discovering Drugs and Understanding Therapeutic Mechanisms, describes the state of the field in pharmacology and systems biology and makes a series of recommendations about training and research. ISP is expected to implement some of these recommendations. The white paper is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.