Systems Medicine—Complexity Within, Simplicity Without

Richard Berlin, Russell Gruen, James Best

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review


This paper presents a brief history of Systems Theory, progresses to Systems Biology, and its relation to the more traditional investigative method of reductionism. The emergence of Systems Medicine represents the application of Systems Biology to disease and clinical issues. The challenges faced by this transition from Systems Biology to Systems Medicine are explained; the requirements of physicians at the bedside, caring for patients, as well as the place of human-human interaction and the needs of the patients are addressed. An organ-focused transition to Systems Medicine, rather than a genomic-, molecular-, or cell-based effort is emphasized. Organ focus represents a middle-out approach to ease this transition and to maximize the benefits of scientific discovery and clinical application. This method manages the perceptions of time and space, the massive amounts of human- and patient-related data, and the ensuing complexity of information.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)119-137
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Healthcare Informatics Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 1 2017


  • Complexity
  • Simplicity
  • Systems medicine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Information Systems
  • Health Informatics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Artificial Intelligence


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