Training the next generation of medical doctors and scientists in systems appoaches

Systems Medicine is a concept that aims at integrating all aspects of present medical teaching with modern Life Science/omics technologies, advanced data handling and computational modelling. To facilitate training by specifically preparing learning materials and events, as well as by directing inquirers to excellent on line resources already available, is a major part of the programme. Through CASyM, Systems Medicine will go beyond the traditional training approach and enthusiastically advertise the multidisciplinary systems approach.

Key for successful interdisciplinary approaches, relevant not only for training and educational issues, are close interactions among the relevant people and groups. Different cultures in preclinical and clinical research demand for activities to promote closer interactions in order for both parties to understand the value of each other’s expertise and thereby reach mutual respect. Good examples are translational research centers where preclinical and clinical researchers work together in the same “room”. This cultural problem should not be underestimated and demands major structural changes at different levels starting with education (medicine, biology, biomedicine etc.), including both under- and post-graduate levels.

In addition, CASyM considers the following topics as essential training components:

  • Medical schools should be encouraged to include in their masters level curricula interdisciplinary training modules, including e-learning tools and web-based courses. This should be encouraged for all disciplines relevant for Systems Medicine approach, including promotion of solid university degrees on Systems Medicine, with a combination of mathematics, engineering, informatics, biology and medicine training. Incorporation of Systems Medicine into the curriculum of newly trained doctors is considered a crucial medium/long-term goal.

  • Novel, creative approaches to train researchers and clinical practitioners. Promotion of multidisciplinary experiences (small and medium size programs) with well-focused clinical end-points including specific aims for all types of partners (clinical, basic scientists, modellers, technological partners, etc.) and training aspects or transference to training activities (see BioHealth Computing Model and Master in Barcelona).

  • Promotion of “clinical leaves” of clinicians, to allow for (transiently) focusing on scientific issues related to clinically relevant topics in order to raise interest in developing Systems Medicine approaches. An important aspect will be to create solutions for filling the emerging personnel gap in the clinics during the clinical leave period.

  • Establishing more seminars to cross-disciplinary scientific collaborations between various disciplines (molecular, cellular biologists, MDs, engineers, computational scientists, sociologists, ethical and legal experts).

  • Gathering of successful case studies that illustrate the impact of this discipline, joint funding initiatives and engagement with the industry and regulatory authorities.