Abstract Background For many diseases such as cancer where phosphorylation-dependent signaling is the foundation of disease onset and progression, single-gene testing and genomic profiling alone are not sufficient in providing most critical information. The reason for this is that in these activated pathways the signaling changes and drug resistance are often not directly correlated with changes in protein expression levels. In order to obtain the essential information needed to evaluate pathway activation or the effects of certain drugs and therapies on the molecular level, the analysis of changes in protein phosphorylation is critical. Methods Existing approaches do not differentiate clinical disease subtypes on the protein and signaling pathway level, and therefore hamper the predictive management of the disease and the selection of therapeutic targets. Conclusions The mini-review examines the impact of emerging systems biology tools and the possibility of applying phosphoproteomics to clinical research.