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I'm reading about various parts of the human body and brain and started to wander if there's a branch of biology that deals with the entire human? I know that there are branches various -biologies, from neurobiology to something like heliobiology or chronobiology. All of them look at different organ systems or parts of an organism, but from different points of view.

Then there are sciences that deal with behavior and cognition of humans.

As I read about these, I notice that there's quite a lot of overlap, particularly when neurotransmitters and hormones are involved. For example Melatonin, a hormone has functions in both the brain and the gut.

I'm wandering if there's some form of biology or science that deals with the entire organism, its behavior , as well as its parts? Am I thinking about Biology or Medicine or something else?

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Organismal biology? – kmm Nov 2 '12 at 21:47
up vote 2 down vote accepted

I was thinking of Systems/Integrative/Predictive Biology reading your question. Studying the wikipedia entry it looks like a research approach with many problems trying to understand organisms from a biochemical perspective, identifying control circuits and macro-quantities like temperature and its relation to such biochemical control circuits. Basically you have to give up reductionism and use holistic/systemic perspectives and methods. While physics was successful with such research approaches (climate simulation, many particle systems,...), biology is lacking very accurate and proven mathematical theories to implement and test reasonable models of an organism, not surprising when biological systems have so many degrees of freedom compared to something like a ideal gas in physics. The wikipedia link doesn't show a lot of proven knowledge that this field/research approach has already created.

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Medicine applies to healing illnesses of the body (with many subspecialties, including endocrinology which you may be interested in). Physiology is a branch of science which deals with the normal function of the body and its various parts.

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This fits the question too, but I can only accept one answer – Alex Stone Nov 3 '12 at 7:50
@AlexStone that's okay. It's hard to be more specific without a clear and specific motivation behind a holistic approach. – user560 Nov 3 '12 at 16:37

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