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Top scientist admits we haven’t been humble enough to appreciate the complexity of gene regulation


Sukhendu B. Dev, in History of Medicine at Oxford, hopes to establish a prize for the solution of unsolved problems in biology, akin to the Millennium Prize in mathematics. Of course, trying to determine what the unsolved problems in biology are is bound to be a murder hornet’s nest.

For one thing, in some quarters, if anything to do with evolution is involved, all problems are solved by the incantation “Darwin!” and few ask for a more detailed, curve-fitting approach.

But he did get some interesting feedback from some key thinkers in biology, including a comment from Immo Scheffler (UCSD), an expert in mitochondrial biology:

Gene Regulation: all along we have not been humble enough to appreciate the complexity of this problem.

Sukhendu B. Dev, “Unsolved Problems in Biology—the State of Current Thinking” at ResearchGate

The other comments are quite interesting but that one is framable. If we have too many answers, we don’t have enough questions.

The paper is open access. Let’s wish Dev luck with the venture.

There's one important difference. The "unsolved problems" in math are useless. Solving them doesn't make real world math any better. Godel and Fermat don't help engineers build better bridges. Some of the unanswered questions in biology have real world resonance, or at least they did before the entire field of medicine abolished itself in 2020. polistra

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