From philately to physics: redefining human disease in an era of systems pathobiology

9 March 2012

Joseph Loscalzo
Hersey Professor of the Theory and Practice of Medicine
Chairman, Department of Medicine and Physician-in-Chief
Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, MA


"All science is either physics or stamp collecting", Ernest Rutherford

Human disease and therapy are rooted in an observational nosology that dates to the late 19th century. This Oslerian disease construct typically defines late-stage pathological processes that largely affect a single organ system, and reflects the nuanced collection of variations on disease presentation and its response to therapy. With the rich molecular data sets that contemporary biology provide coupled with an expanding understanding of the molecular basis of disease pathogenesis, the discipline of medicine is now poised to move from simple collection of observations and reductionist association to holistic, systems-based analysis of disease. This analytical approach offers the opportunity to predict the likelihood of developing disease, to diagnose it preclinically, to treat it with high specificity, and to 'personalize' the practice of medicine.

current theory lunch schedule