Lindley Darden is Professor of Philosophy and an affiliate in the Department of History and in the Behavior, Evolution, Ecology, and Systematics Concentration Area, the Computational Biology, Bioinformatics and Genomics Concentration Area, and the Molecular & Cellular Biology of the Biological Sciences Graduate Program at the University of Maryland. She views the development of scientific knowledge as progressing through iterative cycles of construction, evaluation, and revision of hypotheses. More specifically, she investigates the conceptual aspects of discovery of biological mechanisms from the nineteenth through the twenty-first century, such as evolutionary and genetic mechanisms. She also explores the implications of such discoveries for science education, medicine, and environmental policy. Her current area of research is on computational methods for aiding the discovery of molecular biological and disease mechanisms.
Abstract for "Representing and Discovering Disease Mechanisms":
Biologists and medical researchers often search for mechanisms. The "new mechanistic philosophy of science" provides resources about the nature of biomedical mechanisms that aid the discovery of mechanisms. A new diagrammatic representation of abstract disease mechanism schemas provides a framework to guide the researcher in hypothesizing genetic disease mechanisms. It provides resources to show both what is known and, most significantly, what is not known at a given time. The resulting hypothesis aids in the prioritization of future experiments, probing of gene-drug and gene-environment interactions, identification of possible new drug targets, and potentially guides personalized drug choice. This work is being done as a collaboration by a philosopher of biology and computational biologists doing medical research.
Suggested background reading:
Machamer, P., L. Darden, C.F. Craver (2000), "Thinking About Mechanisms," Philosophy of Science 67: 1-25.
Darden, Lindley, Kunal Kundu, Lipika R. Pal, and John Moult (2018), "Harnessing Formal Concepts of Biological Mechanism to Analyze Human Disease," PLOS Computational Biology.