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Biotechnology Chapter 1 Crossword

By the end of the 16th century, anatomy was a common focus for scientific scholars.

19th-century scientists discovered that bacteria can cause disease. Bacillus anthracis (left) causes anthrax and Vibrio cholerae (below) causes cholera.

Medicine has evolved tremendously since the earliest human civilizations, when the diagnosis and treatment of disease were far from scientific. Medieval medicine, for example, relied heavily on supernatural beliefs. Limited scientific knowledge led to seemingly bizarre practices like opening the vein of a sick person and draining off quarts of precious blood!

Later, in the Renaissance period of the 15th and 16th centuries, scholars centered on anatomy. One of them, the Italian artist-inventor Leonardo da Vinci, created beautiful and accurate illustrations of the human body. His work and that of other scientists of his day focused on the practice of dissection, providing never-before-seen details of the body's architecture of limbs, joints, muscles, nerves and vessels.

Modern medicine got its real start during the 19th century, after the microscope was invented. Medical school subjects like physiology, pathology and microbiology were born. During this time, scientists discovered that bacteria—not evil spirits or other imaginary entities—caused human diseases like cholera, anthrax and tuberculosis.

The birth of modern genetics, which occurred in the 20th century, accelerated the study of all these areas of science. Now, at the start of the 21st century, opportunities have never been greater for turning scientific knowledge into better health for all.

We often take for granted the amazing complexity of the human body. Without even thinking, we sweat to maintain body temperature, get hungry when we need energy and feel tired when we need to sleep.

These seemingly simple actions require a sophisticated coordination of many different organs and the millions of molecules that work together inside them. Thousands of networks of interacting genes underlie these actions in our bodies. But these systems are proving to have far more fluctuation than scientists originally suspected.

One of today's challenges is to map the actions and interactions of all these molecules, a focus of the new field called systems biology. Genetic and genomic research is helping scientists tackle many questions in this area. By building models of cells, tissues and organs in action, scientists hope to learn how these complex, dynamic systems work.

Researchers need to know these basics in order to understand how the systems fail, when disease strikes. An essential tool in this research is the computer.

No Lab? No Problem!

Those who work at the intersection of computer science and biology often combine and analyze data from many different sources, looking for informative patterns.

Andrey Rzhetsky uses the computer program GeneWays to locate important "hubs" of activity (large spheres) within massive gene networks. This particular network represents embryonic developmental pathways in a fruit fly.

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