Organised by Volker Scheid with Jan van der Greef and Bridie Andrews with support from an AHRC research network grant (£ 18,250) and the Wellcome Trust (£ 4,400).
Personalised medicine – the delivery of health care solutions targeted to the exact biological state of an individual at a given moment in time – is seen by many researchers as one of the great challenges for 21st century medicine. The development of such personalised health care solutions is closely tied, in turn, to the emergence of new disciplines such as systems biology: the attempt to describe and model the integrated action of regulatory networks at many levels of biological organisation from the subcellular through cell, tissue and organ right up to the whole organism. Viewed from a wider historical perspective the goal of a personalised approach to medical care, however, is not entirely new and certainly not modern. Physicians in China and East Asia, for instance, have pursued similar visions for two millennia. Not surprisingly perhaps, 21st century systems science and traditional East Asian medicines have begun to discover and even embrace each other. Our conference was an attempt to examine this emergent interface from an interdisciplinary perspective.