A call for a better understanding of causation in cell biology

What does it mean to say that event X caused outcome Y in biology? Explaining the causal structure underlying the dynamic function of living systems is a central goal of biology. Transformative advances in regenerative medicine and synthetic bioengineering will require efficient strategies to cause desired system-level outcomes. We present a perspective on the need to move beyond the classical ‘necessary and sufficient’ approach to biological causality.

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  • 18 April 2019

    In the above article, the name of the first author was spelled incorrectly. This has been corrected in the HTML and PDF versions of the article.


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M.L. gratefully acknowledges support by an Allen Discovery Center Award from the Paul G. Allen Frontiers Group (12171) and the Templeton World Charity Foundation (TWCF0089/AB55).

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Correspondence to Michael Levin.

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Bizzarri, M., Brash, D.E., Briscoe, J. et al. A call for a better understanding of causation in cell biology. Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol 20, 261–262 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41580-019-0127-1

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