Human complex diseases (e.g., asthma, cancer, cardiovascular and metabolic disorders, neuro-degenerative and neuro-developmental diseases) are major biomedical challenges, because they are common but difficult to decipher. The complexity of these diseases likely reflects intricate interactions among genetic, environmental and developmental factors that modify disease susceptibility and severity.
Understanding complex diseases is urgent, because these conditions impose a burden on society. Yet, this goal cannot be achieved by isolated research disciplines. Rather, it requires a novel paradigm that successfully integrates research across multiple fields. Because an interdisciplinary approach to basic and translational research is perfectly aligned with the mission of the Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, the Department chose complex diseases as one of its focus areas. Research targets the developmental and evolutionary biology, immunology, epigenetics, genetics and functional genomics of complex diseases using human and animal models. Our groups seek to identify the mechanistic architecture of complex diseases by focusing on the biological components that are shared by seemingly distinct diseases (for instance, asthma, neurodegenerative and cardiovascular diseases). The Department also sponsors an annual graduate colloquium (Problems in Complex Disease Biology, CMM595H) that has become a nationally renowned forum for complex disease-related themes. Our overall goal is to foster the emergence of a new conceptual, experimental and training paradigm in complex disease biology.