Systems Medicine and Proactive P4 Medicine: Revolutionizing Health Care

Systems Medicine and Proactive P4 Medicine: Revolutionizing Health Care

Lee Hood (PhD ’68)

President, Institute for Systems Biology


We are at a tipping point in medicine, for the approaches of the old medicine are already beginning to be replaced by a medicine that is predictive, preventive, personalized, and participatory (P4). A major component of P4 medicine is the systems approach to disease, or systems medicine – employing global and comprehensive analyses of the disease process. Systems medicine is already creating powerful new genetic approaches to identifying disease genes; it is turning blood into a window for assessing health and disease in the individual; it is determining the genome sequences of tumors to identify targets for preexisting drugs; it is stratifying a disease into its different subtypes so that a proper impedance match against effective drugs can be achieved; it is beginning to develop entirely new, more rapid, and less expensive approaches to the creation of drugs; and it is beginning to assess wellness in individual patients.

I will discuss these revolutions in medicine with specific examples. I will also talk about some of the emerging technologies that are enabling P4 medicine – powerful sequencing machines for deciphering human genomes, a systems approach to blood diagnostics, new approaches to detecting proteins and the analyses of single cells. 

P4 medicine is the convergence of systems medicine, big data analytics, and patient-activated social networks. I will discuss these latter features and predict where each of the four Ps will be in 10 years. I will then discuss the impact that P4 medicine will have on society, along with our efforts to bring P4 medicine to patients.