Albert-László Barabási Maps the Disease Network

One of the world’s foremost network scientists, Barabási is leading an interdisciplinary team of researchers on a quest to construct the human “diseasome”—the sum of all human diseases and the ways they relate to one another.

This map of human diseases would revolutionize medicine on all levels, says Barabási, enabling researchers to understand the molecular and genetic linkages between one disease, like asthma, and other respiratory diseases.

The team has already developed a map of 70 of the most common diseases based on their protein and metabolite interactions. As the pool of knowledge about those molecular interactions expands, so will the map.

Once the diseasome is fully mapped, Barabási says, physicians could use individual genetic mutations as a predictor of future health. And pharmaceutical researchers would have a powerful tool to design drugs with greater precision and effectiveness.