Inaugural Conference Advances New Health Care Paradigm

Posted in GUMC Stories

NOVEMBER 25, 2014—Researchers, clinicians and educators came together for the First International Conference on Systems and Complexity Sciences for Healthcare at Georgetown Nov. 13-14.  The thematic areas, as varied as the attendees’ expertise, were grounded in this emerging cross-disciplinary way of thinking about wellness, disease and care.

Co-hosted by Georgetown University Medical Center and the MedStar Institute for Innovation , the conference featured two days covering topics that included: foundation of systems medicine; disease complexity (physiology and clinical); ethics and education; and change in an adaptive organization.

The conference was co-chaired by Howard J. Federoff, MD, PhD , executive vice president for health sciences at Georgetown University Medical Center, and Joachim Sturmberg, MD, PhD , associate professor of general practice, at The Newcastle University, in Newcastle, Australia.

“This country is now in a period where I think that a systems-based understanding could impact how health care is delivered and how it can be optimized at a cost that will make it comparable to what goes on elsewhere in the world,” Federoff said.

Systems-based Model

The approach views health as a reflection of each person’s unique circumstances, including physiology, environment and community, defying an overly reductionist trend in medicine over the past century and an increasing sub-specialization of care.

According to Sturmberg, the systems and complexity model “is not a medical endeavor,” but rather “embraces everyone who deals with people in need.”

He lauded those who have worked to make the inaugural conference a reality—a journey he said has taken more than two decades.

“Having reached this landmark, not possible without your enthusiasm, passion and persistence, it is time to reflect on the journey—an inevitable part of celebrating ‘firsts,’” Sturmberg said.  

Conference attendees, a variety of international experts in their fields, gave keynote addresses and oral presentations, participated in panel discussions, and presented at a poster session.

New Educational Focus

Since taking the helm at GUMC in 2007, Federoff has instituted a focus on systems medicine, including the launch of a dual MD/MS degree , among other initiatives.

“This is where we think the future lies and I am pleased that Georgetown was able to initiate this master’s program,” Federoff said.

By Lauren Wolkoff
GUMC Communications