If anyone can take the Human Genome Project and the progress science has made over the last three decades and turn it into something the medical field can actually use to benefit real people, it’s Eric Schadt. Esquire writer Tom Junod tantalizes:

Okay, so focusing on one gene at a time doesn’t work, doesn’t explain what causes disease, indeed falsifies the causes of disease and makes it nearly impossible to develop the drugs we need to cure it. So how about focusing on thousands of genes at a time? How about focusing on thousands of genes and thousands of proteins with some enzymes and environmental factors thrown in for good measure? How about getting bigger instead of getting smaller? How about going for complexity instead of simplicity? How about implicating not single genes and single pathways of proteins in disease but whole vast networks of genes and proteins — networks that have been invisible to us until now? How about taking advantage of the technology and the data that’s become available over the past ten years and using it to create models of the living world that are nearly as complex as the living world itself and by God nearly as large? Oh, sure, it sounds impossible. Maybe it is impossible. But that’s why Eric Schadt wants not just to remake the underpinnings of biological science but rather to remake science itself — the way it’s done. Okay, so the complexity of living systems — and the amount of data they generate — turns out to be too much for even the most heroic of individual scientists to master. All right then: Biologists have to form networks that mimic the biological networks they’re studying. The networks between genes and proteins turn out to be organized socially, like human networks, and so human social networks will be required to understand them … with Eric Schadt at their center.