Systems biology is based on the understanding that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. It is a strongly collaborative discipline and often involves scientists from many areas, including molecular and chemical biology, physics, computer science, engineering and bioinformatics. It involves the quantitative deciphering of complex biological systems using networks at multiple scales.

Ultimately, one major goal of systems biology is to not only identify networks but predict how these systems change over time and under different conditions, and in the context of disease.

At the heart of systems biology is the development of new technology, which allows for the unbiased and systematic study of different biological processes. These approaches can uncover connections that are highly unanticipated but important biologically or biomedically, and therefore can have valuable therapeutic value.