Systems Epidemiology: What’s in a Name?

Olaf Dammann, Phillip Gray, Pierre Gressens, Olaf Wolkenhauer, Alan Leviton


Systems biology is an interdisciplinary effort to integrate molecular, cellular, tissue, organ, and organism levels of function into computational models that facilitate the identification of general principles. Systems medicine adds a disease focus. Systems epidemiology adds yet another level consisting of antecedents that might contribute to the disease process in populations. In etiologic and prevention research, systems-type thinking about multiple levels of causation will allow epidemiologists to identify contributors to disease at multiple levels as well as their interactions. In public health, systems epidemiology will contribute to the improvement of syndromic surveillance methods. We encourage the creation of computational simulation models that integrate information about disease etiology, pathogenetic data, and the expertise of investigators from different disciplines.

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Online Journal of Public Health Informatics * ISSN 1947-2579 *