Advancing Epigenetics Towards Systems Biology

(re)visions - the EpiGeneSys book

Read the preface by EpiGeneSys coordinator Geneviève Almouzni!

A Note of Guidance

Geneviève Almouzni

This book presents visions of epigenetics, conceived from discussions and collaborations between artists and scientists - the exchange itself enriching the visions.
Creativity for both the world of science and the world of art works as a feed-forward loop - observations made are fed back into the process down the line. It is a plural vision, open and constructive, to introduce the public to the current thinking through perceptions that tease the imagination.
Clearly, the term ‘epigenetics’ embodies the power of its historical roots. The pre-epigenetics history started with epigenesis, a theory to explain the development of organisms based on the idea that complexity emerges from the unformed. The clever word ‘epigenetics’ was coined in the mid-twentieth century by Conrad H. Waddington by linking the Greek έπί ‘epi’ (above) to the word ‘genetics’. This started a debate in the field of developmental genetics about the potential of genes to interact with the environment to give rise to specific traits. More recently, following the discovery of the double-helix DNA structure, the meaning of the term ‘epigenetics’ has extended to conveying information without it being encoded in the DNA itself, yet capable of being passed on through cellular divisions and even generations. In the search for possible processes with such amazing potential, researchers have uncovered many new aspects of biology. How much their actual properties match the concept is surely a debate.
By browsing through this book you will learn about the different facets beyond the genome. The discovery of the works of art created in the framework of the EpiGeneSys Network of Excellence will invite you to reflect on concepts of epigenetics in a composition mixing time, light, space, form and sound. The potential of this range of media combined with this collaborative approach echoes the progress of science and the multidisciplinary spirit required to explore the fabrics of life, to play with stability and flexibility as an intertwining network linking genetics and epigenetics, and finally, to experiment with effects of the environment in a living theatre.

More questions than answers?
Maybe this is exactly what is needed. It is the essence that drives science and art: not to think that you have reached a final point, but to continue to question and dig further - there is always more to discover.
If you expect to find instructive texts in this book, you will not be disappointed, but it is also intended as a vehicle for exploring multiple viewpoints. If you do not have a clear picture of what awaits you, then I hope this new world will be an inspiration!