Goal 4: Develop Workforce and Resources

Preserving and promoting expertise in integrative physiology

From my perspective, one of the key “critical challenges” facing the NHLBI in particular, and medical science in general, is to avoid being blinded by the promises of the reductionists in the “personalized, precision medicine” of the future. In order to understand the advances being made at the molecular level, we need to preserve and promote expertise in truly integrative physiology, what I like to call “PHYSIOMICS”. A simple instructive analogy may be found with taking a car apart to understand how each nut and bolt work up close. However when all the pieces are spread out on the floor, you just have a bunch of pieces, not a running car. Someone still has to put it all together.

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Is this idea a Compelling Question (CQ) or Critical Challenge (CC)? : Critical Challenge (CC)

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Unfortunately, human physiologists are being squeezed out of the medical industrial complex by the basic scientists on one end, and the epidemiologists on the other. Most departments of medicine now require on 80/20 commitment to have a significant research component of an academic career, and it is becoming increasingly difficult for those few of us physiologists remaining to compete with the pressures of both research funding and clinical mandates. I urge the leadership at NHLBI to preserve a strong focus on human physiology, and continue to support the small, but high resolution studies that are required to answer key research questions. I would submit that studying an individual patient’s unique physiology is as much “personalized” or “precision” medicine as it is to read their genome. Remember, despite billions of dollars of research support, there remains nothing better to predict the risk of diabetes, than a simple measure of waist size!

Name of idea submitter and other team members who worked on this idea : Benjamin Levine

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Idea No. 126