WHAT IS SYSTEMS MEDICINE?

Systems medicine is an emerging biomedical field that relies on systems biology approaches and tools in solving biomedical problems. 

In medicine, complex computational tools will become essential for deriving personalized assessments of disease risk and management including individualized diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment options. This change, involving the use and analysis of enormous quantities and variety of data, will require a new type of physician and a new type of biomedical scientist - one with a grasp of modern computational sciences, “-omic” technologies (genomics, proteomics, metabolomics, transciptomics etc.), and a systems approach to medicine. The new tools that clinicians and biomedical scientists will use continue to arise from the intersection of research across a variety of disciplines and are difficult to capture in traditional curricula. As a leader in medical science and education, Georgetown University Medical Center is taking a leadership role in developing graduate and medical curricula and expanding research in this area.

 A NEW PARADIGM IN MEDICAL PRACTICE AND RESEARCH

Traditionally, biologists and biomedical scientists have engaged in research largely based on a reductionist approach. In contrast, the new field of systems biology applies integrative and quantitative approaches that take advantage of high-throughput technologies and modern computational methods to examine interactions and network behavior involving many variables. These approaches are not only powerful in identifying potential cause-effect relationships, but also enable the development of powerful new tools to predict the behavior of complex biological systems.

With the advances in molecular biology and the sequencing of the human genome, biomedicine is being transformed and is becoming an increasingly quantitative science requiring the understanding and use of complex computational tools.These developments presage changes in the practice of medicine itself, in which quantitative assessments will be the basis of personalized assessments of disease risk and management including individualized diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment options.

This change, involving the use and analysis of enormous quantities and variety of data, will require a new type of physician as well as a new type of biomedical scientist, with a grasp of modern computational sciences, “-omic” technologies, and a systems approach to medicine that we refer to as “-systemomics”.