Since the holistic approach of transferring data from small reaction systems to more complex systems consisting of hundreds or thousands of components is usually impractical, understanding of chemical and biological systems is often best achieved through reductionism. Complex problems are broken down into their smallest parts, on the assumption that these behave in predictable, reproducible ways so that new theories or methods can be developed, tested and refined. Chemistry has been very creatively used to help understand pharmacological systems. Now modern biology through point mutations, siRNA, cloning, knockouts, is also providing many creative tools.
An underlying theme of the symposium was the quest to increase our understanding of nature going from methodologies with regard to chemical building blocks, to complex molecules, supramolecular assemblies, cells and organisms. Complex chemical systems are, of course, not only biological in nature; comprehension of the underlying chemistry, in particular at the nano or meso-scale, of molecular organization allows a systems science approach to be applied to chemistry.
Now that biologists and chemists are becoming able to modify and control biological systems, using the combined creativity and prowess of both disciplines, many hidden secrets of the biological systems in cells and organisms can be begun to be understood and investigated in a structured manner. The many parallels between contemporary chemistry and complex biological processes are resulting in innovative research projects throughout the world.