Mapping human disease

I’ve been on a space kick lately, ever since I got a tele­scope for my birthday and looked up close at the moon for the first time in my life.

So the image on the left calls to my mind neb­ulae and dis­tant galaxies…a sort of map of the uni­verse, that infi­nitely large entity.

But in fact it’s a map of the micro­scop­i­cally small human cell. Doesn’t look a lot like the cell “maps” we’re used to though, does it? Instead of showing the loca­tion of the nucleus or the mito­chon­dria, this map shows the genes that make up such bodies and the con­nec­tions between them.

In a TEDmed talk ear­lier this year, physics pro­fessor Albert-​​László Barabási  used this and other visu­al­iza­tions devel­oped by research pro­fessor Mauro Mar­tino to explain how the net­work of human genes is like the net­work of streets in Man­hattan, and how map­ping that net­work may even­tu­ally allow us to iden­tify the clus­ters rel­e­vant to indi­vidual dis­eases the same way we can find a hub of art gal­leries or the­aters in the Big Apple.

Here is the video of Mauro’s visu­al­iza­tion and below it you’ll find Barabási’s talk.