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Sara Green (Dpt Science Education, University of Copenhagen, Denmark), Systems Biology – The Future of Medicine?
18 October 2016 | 12 h 00 min - 13 h 00 min
Sara Green (University of Copenhagen, Denmark)
Systems Biology – The Future of Medicine?
Systems biology is expected to radically shape the future of medicine. In this talk I specifically address the implications of P4 medicine (defined as personalized, predictive, preventive and participatory) that draw on models from systems biology for large-scale integration of patient-specific data. Proponents of P4 medicine argue that computational integration and analysis of “big data” will revolutionize our health care systems, in particular primary care-based disease prevention. While many ambitions remain visionary, steps to personalize medicine are already taken via personalized genomics, mobile health technologies and pilot projects. An important aim of P4 medicine is to enable disease prevention among healthy persons through detection of risk factors. I present the results of collaborative analysis combining a view from general practice (MD Henrik Vogt) with a philosophy of science perspective. We examine the current status of P4 medicine in light of historical and current challenges to predictive and preventive medicine, including overdiagnosis and overtreatment. Moreover, we ask whether it is likely that in silico integration of patient-specific data will be able to better deal such challenges and to turn risk predictions into disease-preventive actions in a wider social context. Given the lack of evidence that P4 medicine can tip the balance between benefits and harms in preventive medicine, we raise concerns about the current promotion of P4 medicine as a solution to the current challenges in public health.