Systems Medicine

Catalyzing a Systems Approach to Studying Scientific Wellness, Disease, and Health Careers 

Medicine is at a fundamental tipping point, transforming from a reactive disease-care system to a proactive discipline of health maintenance that optimizes wellness and minimizes disease. In order to help individuals thrive now and in the future, scientists at ISB are leveraging their work in systems biology to understand the biological complexities of wellness and disease. Their systems medicine approach uses genetics, a breadth of personalized data, and tailored health coaching to predict, and ultimately prevent, an individual from developing a disease. Through ISB’s affiliation with Providence St. Joseph Health, scientific wellness is being actualized in the healthcare system.

The Need

To democratize the systems medicine approach for the well-being of all, education is needed to empower individuals with the skills and knowledge necessary to participate in managing their own health, and to advocate for the well-being of their communities. It is also imperative that we prepare a new generation of collaborative and interdisciplinary STEM and healthcare professionals for the novel demands of the systems medicine framework.

Meeting the Need

To meet these needs we are developing a Systems Medicine high school course that provides students with the opportunity to learn the principles and practices of systems medicine, engage in cutting edge science, build and deepen their interdisciplinary skills, and explore STEM and healthcare careers focused on biology, engineering, computer science, environmental sustainability, biomedicine, big data, and technology.

Course Overview

In this 180-hour high school course students in STEM classes will apply the principles and practices of systems thinking to investigate how science and technology are integrated to optimize current health  and future wellness for individuals and communities. Students explore careers in healthcare, computation, and research while learning about historic paradigm shifts in science that led to our current model for diagnosing and treating patients, as well as the latest technologic advances that have opened the door for healthcare that is predictive, preventive, personalized, and participatory.

What Students Learn

  • An organism's phenotype (healthy or diseased) is influenced by many interacting factors, such as: lifestyle and behavior, the environment, genetics, the microbiome, social networks, and access to healthcare.
  • Systems medicine integrates many types of biological information - DNA, RNA, protein, metabolites, small molecules -  to create predictive and actionable models for wellness and disease.
  • Analytic tools are needed for capturing, validating, storing, mining, integrating and modeling biological data sets.
  • Insights into individual biological systems is fueled by population-based wellness and disease stratification, and biomarker discovery.
  • Scientific wellness provides patients with actionable possibilities that optimize wellness, minimize disease, and is personalized for each individual.
  • Systems medicine requires a cross-disciplinary environment where biologists, chemists, computer scientists, engineers, mathematicians, physicists, and physicians work together in teams.
  • Health coaches and digital health information devices empower individuals with the tools and resources needed to better manage their own health.
  • Systems medicine is predictive, preventive, personalized, and participatory.

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