Systems medicine, P4 medicine, and an integrative “Human Model”

Conventional practice in Western medicine focuses on doctors’ “reactive” interventions in response to the occurrence of diseases. With the advancement of genomics, proteomics, and various high efficient “omics” technologies, the multidimensional networks of the human body can be investigated for the better understanding of health and complex diseases.

Systems biology studies can help elucidate the multiple feedback mechanisms in the high complex systems of the human body. Conceptual and functional connections can be established among genes, proteins, cells, organs, systems, and the whole organism. An integrative “Human Model” can be developed to associate the functions of the systems at various levels, and to connect scientific mechanisms with clinical outcomes (Hester et al., 2011).

Based on such understanding, systems medicine can be developed to supply a conceptual and theoretical framework that translates the rapid developments in the basic biomedical science to better clinical practice. An “anticipatory” medicine with more personalized, predictive, preventive and participatory (P4) healthcare would be available on the basis of such framework (Sobradillo et al., 2011; Vandamme et al., 2013). Multidisciplinary collaborations among various fields including biology, physiology, and clinical medicine would also be needed to achieve the P4 medicine.




Hester RL, Iliescu R, Summers R, Coleman TG. Systems biology and integrative physiological modelling. J Physiol. 2011 Mar 1;589(Pt 5):1053-60. doi: 10.1113/jphysiol.2010.201558.

Sobradillo P, Pozo F, Agustí A. P4 medicine: the future around the corner. Arch Bronconeumol. 2011 Jan;47(1):35-40. doi: 10.1016/j.arbres.2010.09.009.

Vandamme D, Fitzmaurice W, Kholodenko B, Kolch W. Systems medicine: helping us understand the complexity of disease. QJM. 2013 Oct;106(10):891-5. doi:


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